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Opinion: At G7, many small steps for a better world

If you expected miracles from the seven traditional industrial nations, you are quite likely to be disappointed. People who expected nothing at all were also in for a surprise, however, DW's Christian F. Trippe writes.

Germans tend to want to know and be able to assess everything in advance. The media, in particular, is prone to judging an event before it has even taken place. The run-up to the summit of the Group of Seven industrialized nations was a good example of this very German trait as far as wisenheimers in the media are concerned: The G7's meeting, they said, is deteriorating into an "event." It's much too expensive. It's ineffective. The mixture is wrong. It's detached from society, sealed off from the people - and, in any case, without Putin and Putin's Russia, the talks are bound to be futile anyway. Simplified and summarized, this was the gist of practically all reports that appeared in Germany ahead of the summit at Schloss Elmau.

Nevertheless, observers were in for a surprise. The summit produced results that are relatively concrete and can be reviewed at a later date. With regard to development policy, they include political incentives, agreements and projects - for example, support for a fund designed to boost work safety in emerging countries.

Christian Trippe

DW's Christian Trippe

Global social policies and the fight against poverty are not merely expressions of pure human kindness: They also include a good bit of self-interest. People don't flee from stable states with more or less solid economic foundations. People who speak of their values shouldn't have to hide their interests. And, if you stand for your interests, it's best to be bound to values.

The climate question

The seven industrialized nations also came up with a joint policy on climate protection. In part, they merely underlined previous agreements. But the group's commitment to make member nations' energy industries free of carbon emissions by the end of this century is a qualitative new goal. The test for the climate intentions by the seven major democratic industrialized nations looms at the end of this year, when a new global accord stands to be worked out at a climate conference in Paris.

These are promises that need to be kept, and we will soon find out if they are.

Mainly, however, the promises are results.

The seven had a clear stance on Russia and its aggressive policies toward neighboring countries. In the long run, it's an obligation for the EU to extend the sanctions against Russia at the end of June.

Europe dominated this G7 meeting like it had hardly any other summit in the past. A glance at the participants shows the predominance of the Old World's perception: Of nine participants, six were representatives of an EU nation or institution. This is where G7 reforms could begin. Many issues were also strongly influenced by the EU representatives, including the unsolved debt crisis in the eurozone, Greece's credit crunch, the civil war in Ukraine, and the arrival of refugees as a result of collapsing states in the Middle East and conflicts in Africa. For geopolitical reasons, the US has an interest in the latter, but Canada and Japan care little for European refugee and immigration policies.

From a European point of view, this wasn't simply a costly "much ado about nothing" meeting. The seven nations have even learned that meetings can be simpler and less expensive. That's a matter of debate, just as it is in the case of other mega media events like the Eurovision Song Contest and the Olympic Games - and rightly so. Concerning downsizing, the G7 could set a good example. That might even impress those who think they knew it all beforehand.

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