Italy’s G20 Presidency: an opportunity for the EU?

By Ilaria Sacco

2021 has symbolized the beginning of a new era, a moment of recovery after one of the biggest crises caused by the pandemic. Covid-19 shows us that we live in  such an interdependent world, made of interconnected threats. In this world, multilateralism must be revived. This means more rapid and unique responses to the major global challenges. The last year has proven that international cooperation was extremely weak and vulnerable, apart from some exceptional cases such as the European Union, that seized the opportunity to reaffirm its power.

At this stage, the G20 must live up to its expectations, and the rotating Presidency of the forum must work to identify coordinated responses. The task is up to Italy, which holds the 2021 G20 Presidency, and its Prime Minister Mario Draghi. This represents an opportunity to relaunch not just the role of Italy in the international arena but also the credibility of the EU as a global actor.

What is the G20?
The G20 is an international forum bringing together the world’s leading economies. The countries which are part of it represent more than 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of global trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. It was formed in 1999, and from 2008 it provides for a final summit, with the participation of the Heads of State and Government. The G20 has the mandate to promote global economic growth, international trade, and regulation of financial markets. It does not have a legislative body; therefore, the decisions are not binding. However, they influence countries’ policies and the status of international cooperation. 

The G20 includes all members of the G7, a forum of the seven countries with the world’s largest developed economies: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. Twelve other states are currently part of the G20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and Turkey. 

The role of the Presidency and the Italian Presidency
The G20 does not have a permanent structure. The agenda of the Group and its activities are set by the rotating Presidency, in cooperation with the other Member States. Therefore, the country that holds the Presidency has significant responsibilities and opportunities to determine the future of the forum.

Since December 1st, 2020, Italy has held the Presidency of the G20. It will focus on three pillars of action: People, Planet, Prosperity. This means working on: better living conditions, climate change – as the G20 Energy and Climate Ministerial Meeting confirms; finally, digitalization.
The G20 final Summit will be held in Rome on October 30th and 31st, 2021. For the first time, Italy has the responsibility of the presidency of the G20, in the same year as the co-chair of COP26. These next months will be crucial for Italy and, at the same time, they represent an opportunity for the whole Union. 

An opportunity for the EU? The relevance of Mario Draghi
Mario Draghi, the Prime Minister of Italy since February 2020, is well known and appreciated in Europe. His “whatever it takes” as President of the European Central Bank is still in the minds of many people. The reputation and notoriety of Draghi can make a difference in the European dimension, especially in a time where the German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s era is coming to an end and the French presidential elections are approaching. The strategic autonomy represents the aim of many politicians of the Member States and European institutions. Under Draghi’s leadership, Italy will be able to pave this way and become its leader.

Indeed, the Italian Head of Government has emphasized the idea of promoting national interests and sovereignty in a European framework, based on European institutions and values: “without Italy, there is no Europe. Outside Europe there is less Italy. There is no sovereignty in solitude”, he stated.  Since the first moment, Draghi has put Italy in a closer position to the Franco-German engine and their idea of Europe, trying to foster the EU multilateral system. The G20 Presidency is a great opportunity to relaunch Italy and this kind of Europe. Moreover, Draghi desperately needs the support of the Union, its funds, and Next Generation EU to go on. 

The current situation between the EU and Italy’s G20 Presidency? One always needs the other.

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