Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the Group of 20 (G20) Ministers of Finance and the Governors of the Central Banks have held regular meetings every year since 1998 in order to discuss how to foster greater global financial stability. Since the 2008 financial and economic crisis, the G20 heads of state and government have held annual meetings with a view to addressing global challenges together. The G20 since has become the leading informal format for intergovernmental cooperation at leaders’ level. The G20 agenda has since been broadened to include issues of international trade, digitalisation and energy policy, for instance, in addition to fiscal and economic policy.
Together, the G20 represent around two thirds of the global population, more than 80% of global GDP and three quarters of the global trade volume. They also provide three quarters of all development assistance. The G20 is comprised of Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the EU, the latter representing those EU Member States that are not members in their own right. Also invited to the meetings are Spain, as a permanent guest, and the heads of the 3G group, the African Union, NEPAD, and the APEC. Depending on the issues being dealt with, other international organisations are also invited to take part in the G20 process and to provide valuable input to its work. This notably applies to the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the OECD, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization and the World Health Organization. The country holding the G20 Presidency can also decide to invite other countries to participate as guests.
On 1 December 2019, Saudi Arabia took over the 2020 Presidency of the G20 from Japan. Germany last held the G20 Presidency in 2017. At the summit in Hamburg, which took place from 7 to 8 July 2017 and was guided by the motto ‘Shaping an Interconnected World’, the G20 sent a clear signal in favour of free trade, open markets and against isolation. The G20 also agreed to build a partnership with Africa, to join forces to combat excess capacity in the steel sector, and to continuously deepen their political cooperation on shaping the digital transformation. With the exception of the U.S., the G20 reaffirmed their commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and presented the G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for the Agreement’s swift implementation.