G7 leaders agree on comprehensive infrastructure plan

(Carbis Bay) G7 leaders showed their unity Saturday on the second day of their summit in Cornwall, on epidemic prevention and China’s response to infrastructure, before concluding the day with a barbecue on the beach.

Laurence Benhmou with Jean-Baptiste Obirier in Falmouth
France media agency

At the end of a day packed with face-to-face business sessions, it’s time to enjoy the heads of state and government of the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Gather on the beach at Carbis Bay, the site of the summit, for a barbecue prepared by a local chef, with grilled marshmallows and rum cocktail on the menu.

Before dinner, they looked up to see the acrobatic RAF Patrol, Red Arrows, passing through the clear Cornish sky. The evening was to end in front of a local band performing traditional marine songs.

On Sunday, at the summit’s conclusion, climate should be at the center of discussions.

Climate convergence

Leaders want to preserve biodiversity by protecting at least 30% of land and seas by 2030, according to a statement from Downing Street.

London will also launch a £500 million (more than $857 million) fund to conserve oceans and marine ecosystems in countries such as Ghana and Indonesia.

“The decisions we make during this decade […] British naturalist David Attenborough, 95, warned.

Saturday was above all an opportunity for US President Joe Biden to unite his allies in the face of challenges from Beijing and Moscow.

Is America back? The journalists set out during the first meeting between the French and American presidents on the sidelines of the summit. “Ask him,” Joe Biden replied, before Emmanuel Macron answered, “Sure.”

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The two leaders promised close cooperation with Beijing and Moscow. A US official spoke of a “growing convergence” on China within the G7.

The G7 leaders, joined by their counterparts from South Korea, South Africa and Australia, have shown their understanding despite bitter exchanges between Europeans and Britain over Brexit.

They launched a vast global infrastructure plan for disadvantaged countries, on Biden’s initiative, in order to compete with the “New Silk Roads” that Beijing has built in Latin America, Africa or Asia.

This project, called “Rebuilding the World for Better,” should help these countries recover from the pandemic, by focusing on climate, health, digital technology and fighting inequality.

“We know that there is a huge need for infrastructure in Africa […]. “We can’t just say that China will take care of it,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters.

The US administration estimates that hundreds of billions of dollars could be mobilized, especially thanks to the private sector.

On diplomatic issues, which were a highlight of the day, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Twitter welcomed the return of “solidarity” and “cooperation” within the G7. She added that it is a necessary alliance in the face of Russia and the security challenges it poses to Europe.

European Council President Charles Michel told him that the famine-threatened conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray was high on the agenda in international issues.

COVID-19 ‘devastating’

The leaders also presented a battle plan against future epidemics, an initiative that London described as “historic”.

It’s about reducing the time needed to develop vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics, with the hope that in less than 100 days the world will be ready to deal with a sudden disease.

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The other part is about reform to strengthen the World Health Organization.

« Notre but doit être de vacciner au moins 70% de la population mondiale d’ici le prochain G7 en Allemagne l’an prochain », a martelé le directeur général de l’OMS, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, lors d’une conférence de presse On-line.

northern Ireland

This first face-to-face summit in nearly two years provides an opportunity to discuss in private on issues that bother, first and foremost, the tensions arising from the post-Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.

During the tête-à-tête conference, the European Union, France and Germany urged London to honor their commitments, and called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to show “pragmatism and compromise” in the face of the difficulties caused by the new customs measures. He warned that his country would “not hesitate” to ignore the Brexit deal.

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