G8 summit: promoting global fairness through trade, transparency and tax compliance
© European Union, 2013.
Advancing global trade, fighting tax evasion and tax avoidance, and increasing transparency were the main themes at the 39th G8 summit held in Lough Erne (UK) on 17 and 18 June. The global economy and Syria also figured highly on the agenda.
"We had a good discussion of the global economy with the other G8 leaders. All leaders agreed that our urgent priority is to promote growth and jobs, particularly for the young and long-term unemployed. We are especially glad about the G8's strong support for the deepening of our Economic and Monetary Union including the agreed elements of a banking union," said President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso after the meeting.
The EU leaders set out the EU's positions on fostering international trade, fighting tax evasion and tax fraud, and global transparency issues. They also discussed the EU's response to the economic crisis and the progress achieved in the euro area since the Camp David summit in 2012.
Other topics included global security, climate change and current foreign affairs, including the crisis in Syria.
Alongside the Summit, the EU also held bilateral meetings with the prime ministers of Japan and Canada and launched negotiations between the EU and US on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
The EU considers trade to be an engine of economic growth and job creation. To foster international trade the EU concludes bilateral trade agreements and seeks to solve international trade issues with the WTO and other multilateral institutions.
The EU has 28 bilateral trade agreements in force. Completion of all ongoing free trade negotiations would add an estimated 2.2% to the EU's GDP and would create around 2.2 million new jobs.
Just before the start of the Summit, Presidents Van Rompuy and Barroso and US President Barack Obama officially launched negotiations between the EU and US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. The agreement is expected to create about two million new jobs in the EU alone and increase its gross national income by EUR 86 billion.
Negotiations with Japan on a Strategic Partnership Agreement and Free Trade Agreement, launched on 25 March this year, are also making progress, as noted by Mr Van Rompuy and Mr Barroso after the meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The EU's negotiations on a free trade agreement with Canada are currently being finalised.
In addition, the EU is fully committed to concluding a WTO trade facilitation agreement. The aim is to close the deal at the WTO ministerial meeting in Bali in December this year.
Furthermore, the EU is working to further trade in Africa by lowering trade costs, supporting infrastructure financing and coordinating support more effectively.
The EU is the world's largest provider of development assistance in support of international and regional trade. This "Aid for Trade" is a broad concept that includes financing for various areas related to improving a country's capacity to trade. The EU's contribution for this project is around 32% of total Aid for Trade flows (more than EUR 10.7 billion in 2010).
The leaders looked into how to fight tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance. The EU is promoting improvement of the quality and quantity of tax information exchange worldwide as one way of solving this problem. It intends to continue to work closely on the matter with its partners in G8 as well as in G20 and OECD.
The leaders also discussed how to help developing countries improve their ability to collect tax.
Due to tax avoidance and evasion the EU alone loses about one trillion euros every year (this roughly corresponds to the EU's budget for seven years).
Ahead of the Summit, Herman Van Rompuy said about tax fraud and tax evasion, "These undermine the social contract in our democratic societies. In times of budgetary consolidation, they become more unacceptable than ever; morally, politically, and financially unacceptable".
The G8 agenda included a discussion on the need to increase corporate and government transparency worldwide. Particular attention was paid to extractive industries – the leaders discussed the need to require oil, gas and mining companies to publish key financial information for each country and project they work on.
The G8 leaders also discussed how to drive greater transparency globally so that revenues from oil, gas and mining can help developing countries to forge a path to sustainable growth, and eliminate conflict and corruption.
The discussion focused on the most pressing challenges: the Middle East Peace Process, North Korea and Afghanistan, and the crisis in Syria.
The EU is appalled by the escalating violence and the continued violations of human rights. The EU leaders reiterated the EU's support for the American-Russian initiative for an international peace conference on Syria and has announced its willingness to support preparatory efforts.
The solution to the conflict lies in facilitating a Syrian-led political process. The EU is already the largest humanitarian donor in the crisis, having provided more than 840 million euros, and it will mobilise an additional 400 million euros for Syria and neighbouring countries – in particular Lebanon and Jordan.
G8 is a forum that brings together leaders of eight countries to address international issues and tackle the most pressing global challenges.
The EU is a full member of the G8, together with Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The next meeting, in 2014, will be held in Russia.