For the first time since leaders of some of the world’s largest economies began meeting at the annual Group of Seven summits in 1975, this year’s gathering is expected to end without a joint statement.
Though mostly symbolic in nature, joint communiques had become staples of G-7 gatherings, which over the years have allowed leaders from the U.S., Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Canada and the U.K. to convene in the same room to discuss commerce, climate and foreign policy.
But French President Emmanuel Macron, who hosts this year’s session in France beginning on Saturday, announced this week he would not pursue the traditional statement of unity, citing “a very deep crisis of democracy,” according to the Financial Times.
Highlighting President Donald Trump, in particular, Macron said at a news conference in Paris this week that the task of issuing a statement has been made more difficult by a lack of agreement on fundamental issues, such as climate change. It would be “pointless” to pursue such a communique because “President Trump won’t agree,” he said.
The news comes as relationships continue to strain between some of the world’s most influential economies. The U.S. has thrown the international trade landscape into disarray by taking on the Chinese economy alone, shaking up the North American Free Trade Agreement and threatening to implement tariffs on European and Canadian goods, among others.
It also comes on the heels of two particularly tense years of meetings between Trump and his international counterparts. In 2017, Trump signaled his intention to walk away from the Paris climate accord. Last year, he balked at signing the G-7 joint communique before tweeting insults at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“There’s no question that there has been a complete realization on the world stage that the U.S. is not playing its traditional role – may never again play the role it’s played for 75 years,” Jon Alterman, a senior vice president, chairman of global security and geostrategy and director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said on a conference call earlier this week. “But it’s unclear what role the United States will play and what the consequences of that might be. And it feels to me like this is a summit where leaders will be trying to work that out.”
The U.K., meanwhile, is in the midst of an acrimonious withdrawal from the European Union with a new guide, recently appointed Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson in recent days has spoken with Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel about his desire to retool certain aspects of the U.K.’s Brexit agreement that were negotiated prior to his appointment. But his European Union counterparts have been loathe to budge.
“In a calculated snub to other G-7 leaders, Trump plans to meet with new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson en route to the summit and to press him to proceed with a ‘no deal’ Brexit,” Stewart Patrick, a senior fellow in global governance and director of the International Institutions and Global Governance program at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in a research note earlier this week.
The news also comes as Trump lobbies for Russia’s readmittance to the G-7 body, effectively rebranding it as the G-8. Russia had previously been a member of the group but was kicked out in 2014 during the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine. Macron spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin in recent days and has said that the Ukraine crisis would first have to resolve before he could support Russia’s readmittance to the group.