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Role and missions of the G20

The G20 was created in September 1999 by decision of the finance ministers and heads of central banks of the G7, in response to the Asian crisis of 1997-1998, which had revealed the need to integrate the larger emerging countries into multilateral discussions on the economy and financial stability. Economic policy questions are examined by the G20, with the aim of promoting international financial stability and seeking solutions to issues that exceed the national scope. Since the last economic crisis, it has been the primary international forum for economic and financial cooperation and consultation.

The G20 met for the first time on 15 and 16 December 1999 in Berlin, bringing together the finance ministers and central bank governors of its 20 members. Until the financial crises of 2008, meetings were held only around financial questions, at a frequency of one per year. These meetings are preceded by several technical preparatory sessions.

In 2008, the G20 was designated as the appropriate venue to manage the global economic and financial crisis, in the face of a G7/G8 perceived as less legitimate due to the absence of the major emerging countries, whose weight had increased considerably, and an IMF whose governance structures proved to be unsuited to emergency management of this type of global crisis. On 15 November 2008, the heads of state and of government of the G20 members met for the first time at an exceptional summit in Washington.

We reaffirm that the G20’s founding spirit of bringing together the major economies on an equal footing to catalyse action is fundamental and therefore agree to put our collective political will behind our economic and financial agenda
Cannes Summit declaration, Nov. 2011

The institutionalisation of summits at the level of the heads of state was accompanied by an expansion of the role of the G20. Designated the “premier forum for international economic cooperation” (Pittsburgh Summit declaration, September 2009), the G20 also addresses topics that extend beyond the scope of economic and financial issues.

The G20 became the forum for the collective response to the last financial crisis; it now intends to continue and further its international cooperation and coordination role. The G20's international fiscal agenda (erosion of tax bases and transfer of profits, automated information exchange), which seeks to make the tax system more favourable to growth, is a concrete illustration of the G20's role in international cooperation. Today the G20 is defined by the “founding spirit” under which the major economies were united on an equal footing.

The Governor of the Banque de France and the Minister of Finance represent France at the meetings of the finance sector, which remains the primary G20 focus (we could also mention the Social G20, for which one of the founding objectives is to place “employment at the centre of economic policy coordination”, or the Agriculture G20).

Updated on: 12/01/2016 11:05