|24th G8 summit|
24th G8 summit official logo
|Host country||United Kingdom|
|Dates||May 15-17, 1998|
|Follows||23rd G8 summit|
|Precedes||25th G8 summit|
The Group of Seven (G7) was an unofficial forum which brought together the heads of the richest industrialized countries: France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada starting in 1976. The G8, meeting for the first time in 1997, was formed with the addition of Russia. In addition, the President of the European Commission has been formally included in summits since 1981. The summits were not meant to be linked formally with wider international institutions; and in fact, a mild rebellion against the stiff formality of other international meetings was a part of the genesis of cooperation between France's President Giscard d'Estaing and Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt as they conceived the initial summit of the Group of Six (G6) in 1975.
The G8 is an unofficial annual forum for the leaders of Canada, the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
|Core G8 members|
Host state and leader are shown in bold text.
|Canada||Jean Chrétien||Prime Minister|
|Italy||Romano Prodi||Prime Minister|
|Japan||Ryutaro Hashimoto||Prime Minister|
|United Kingdom||Tony Blair||Prime Minister|
|United States||Bill Clinton||President|
|European Union||Jacques Santer||Commission President|
|Tony Blair||Council President|
Traditionally, the host country of the G8 summit sets the agenda for negotiations, which take place primarily amongst multi-national civil servants in the weeks before the summit itself, leading to a joint declaration which all countries can agree to sign.
The summit was intended as a venue for resolving differences among its members. As a practical matter, the summit was also conceived as an opportunity for its members to give each other mutual encouragement in the face of difficult economic decisions.
In 1998, the summit leaders proclaimed an "Action Program on Forests" with a pledge to report back on progress in 2000, but there is little evidence of follow-up action or program.
For some, the G8 summit became a profit-generating event; as for example, the official G8 Summit magazines which have been published under the auspices of the host nations for distribution to all attendees since 1998.