The G7’s last gasp?

So you thought that the Pittsburgh G20 summit had buried the G7/G8?  Not quite yet…

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Luxembourg prime minister who chairs meetings of the eurozone finance ministers, has responded sharply to suggestions from Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that the Group of Seven advanced industrial countries might no longer play a leading role in international economic policy diplomacy.

“We do not want the G7 to be brought to an end,” Juncker said at this year’s annual meetings in Istanbul of the World Bank and the IMF, the government-owned institutions that have been helping to finance the recovery from the global economic crisis. “We think that the G7 is the best place to discuss currency issues,” Juncker said.

His remarks followed comments earlier by Strauss-Kahn which added to persistent behind-the-scenes Anglo-American sniping at the G7. After the meeting of the G20 developed and developing countries in Pittsburgh on September, some countries were suggesting that the G7 should give way to the G20 for international economic policy discussions because the former excludes the increasingly influential emerging market economies China, India and Brazil. Strauss-Kahn referred to the G7 as “perhaps the late G7”, implying that he also questioned the validity of the group as a meaningful venue for international economic policy debate.

This sort of to-and-fro may go on for a while yet, as European leaders attempt to maintain the privileged status of the G7/G8 to counter-balance the rise of the G20…