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G20 balance - overestimated and underperforming

13.06.2012: This paper makes a critical assessment of the G20 since the Pittsburgh summit. It comes to the conclusion that the G20 have not met the expectations. There are structural limits to the group's capacities, among others the conflicting geo-political interests of its memers.


This paper draws a balance of the performance of the G20 since the Pittsburgh summit. Although there were some realistic perceptions and proposals going into the right direction, the G20 lost considerably momentum. The high expectations from the beginning were not met. Some of the reasons for the poor performance are analyzed. Financial reforms were not going deep enough, came too slow and too late and were ineffective. Another factor is the geo-political reconfiguration of the international system, which is limiting considerably the impact of the G20. The relative weakening of the US, the decline of the EU and the rise of new powers make the G20 an arena in the struggle over status in the global power hierarchy. Several emerging countries seek for alternatives or complementary structures to the G20, such as the BRICS or the ‘Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.’ The paper discusses the question, whether the mandate of the G20 should be restricted to economic issues or be expanded for instance to environment and development. One chapter deals with the stagnation of the attempts to increase the representativeness and legitimacy of the G20. The final chapter raises questions to civil society and advocates for a stronger global cooperation. There are two annexes: one on the agenda and the structure of the Mexican summit and an overview of the G20 in figures.

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G20 - Overestimated and Underperforming.pdfDownload (395 kb)