They've discussed lots of things in the past, climate change, Africa, world trade, global security, but of course more recently um... the summit talks are focused on finding a common approach to stabilizing the world economy, stimulating growth and um... of course this year, Syria and also on global tax evasion.
Jackie: The G8 summit has just finished in Northern Ireland. So for this week's podcastsinenglish.com business podcast, we're talking about the G8. Richard, what is the G8 exactly, what does it stand for?
Richard: Well, if I.... if I tell you it started off in 1975, when um... the French President invited the biggest industrial nations of the world to an informal gathering and those industrial um... industrial countries were France obviously, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Italy. So that's 6. So they were the G6 originally.
Jackie: So what did G6 mean?
Richard: Well G6, the Group of 6.
Jackie: Oh, right.
Richard: And then they invited Canada, the G7 and then more lately they invited Russia to make it the G8.
Jackie: So is there a HQ? Is it... is it based anywhere?
Richard: No. It doesn't have a headquarters, doesn't have a budget, doesn't have any regular staff...
Jackie: Oh, really?
Richard: Yes. But it is one of the most influential groups in the world and they meet once a year, and have a rotating Presidency.
Jackie: So what happens at... at the summit then, Richard?
Richard: Well, it's actually quite informal um... the leaders meet in a relaxed setting and it's largely free of bureaucracy um...and as I said it's not a legal entity, there are no formal rules and they try to find solutions to global problems.
Jackie: So they have some kind of agenda, then?
Richard: Um... yes. They've discussed lots of things in the past, climate change, Africa, world trade, global security, but of course more recently um... the summit talks are focused on finding a common approach to stabilizing the world economy, stimulating growth and um... of course this year, Syria and also on global tax evasion.
Jackie: And about time too.[both laugh] So there's often a fuss, isn't there, every time there's a G8. There's often lots of demonstrations. What's all that about?
Richard: Well, there are a number of issues. Firstly is, of course it's supposed to be the group of the biggest nations in the World. Where's China?
Jackie: Right. And India's not there either.
Richard: China's not there, India's not there, Brazil's not there, there are no African, Latin American members.
Jackie: And Canada is there.
Richard: Historically, you see, you can't have Canada now and then kick them out because they're a bit small.
Jackie: So people don't feel that they're very representative then.
Richard: No, and also they're very positive on globalisation and of course a lot of people are anti-globalisation at the moment and so a lot of the recent meetings have had riots especially in Italy in 2001, for instance.
Jackie: Yes, right. Now I do know that um... the UK has spent £50 million on security.
Richard: 50 million?
Jackie: £50 million, yeah.
Richard: And it's only a two day meeting.
Jackie: It's two days? [both laugh]They spend 50 million on two days.
Richard: It's amazing, well as I said, there's lots of protests in the past and that's another reason why it's in a very quiet place in the middle of nowhere almost. Well, when you've got the leaders of the world's biggest nations, security is a huge issue.
Jackie: Mmm, especially nowadays. Is it worth it, Richard?
Richard: It is a huge, expensive event and what comes out of it? I would suggest very little. So what do you the listeners think? We'd love to hear from you.