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Taormina welcomes the Group of Seven. Migrations, terrorism and development top the agenda

The G7 summit of the leaders of Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom, and the United States will take place in the Sicilian city May 26-27. The deaths in Manchester and in the Mediterranean call for convincing, effective response. Other items of debate include defence, ISIS and Syria. President Mattarella and Premier Gentiloni will do the honours. Meetings under the Italian Presidency will equally take place in Bari, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence, Lucca, Milan, Rome and Turin

It hit front-page news of media outlets worldwide, from Japan to the United States. The G7 summit of May 26-27 confers to Taormina a visibility without borders. On Friday and Saturday the Sicilian city – considered one of the most beautiful in the world, and rightly so – will welcome the heads of Government and State of Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, United Kingdom and the United Sates. Along with the G7 leaders will be the President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Junker and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk. Italian premier Paolo Gentiloni will do the honours with the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella. On Saturday they will be joined by the heads of Government and State of African Countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Niger, Tunisia), in addition to the heads of 6 international organizations. The high-level political meeting envisages “major” and “subsidiary” themes. We examined five.

First: a bridge city linking Europe and Africa. Taormina prepared to host the Seven leaders with a thorough makeover and reinforced security measures – by Italian authorities. An “armoured city” is its truthful depiction.

Why Taormina?

“The Sicilian town was chosen to launch a message of welcome and of openness. Sicily represents a bridge between Europe and Africa, and Taormina – with its history rooted in antiquity – is the crossroads of several civilizations”, states the official website of the summit.

Second: the theme and the “pillars.” The G7 presidency is assumed on a rotating basis. It is the sixth time that Italy holds this post. The first occasion was in 1980 in Venice. The Lagoon city was the venue also of the 1987 summit; then it was the turn of Naples (1994), Genoa (2001) and L’Aquila (2009). The theme chosen by the Italian presidency is: “Building the foundations of renewed trust.” The agenda is based on three fundamental pillars: 1) citizen safety; 2) economic, environmental and social sustainability and the reduction of inequalities; 3) innovation, skills and labour in the age of the Next Production Revolution.” In addition to “official” meetings there are also other reunions – conferences, seminars – that involve NGOs, civil society representatives, and youths.

Third: an agenda marked by current events. The summit of the coming days is obviously shaped by the issues of terrorism and migrations: the deaths in Manchester and those in the Mediterranean must be met with convincing, truly effective and far-sighted response. Some items on the agenda are characterised by overarching consensus, while on other issues participants have starkly opposite views. These are: economy and global trade, foreign policy and security, environmental sustainability and climate, migration phenomena, Syria and ISIS, Africa’s development.

Fourth: the “giants” present and those… absent. Participating countries represent the seven major industrialised economies of the Western world, plus Japan. Global giants such as China, India and Russia are not part of G7.

The Group of Seven represent 10% of world population, 32% of global GDP

35% of total import and export. Each Country brings its highest representatives – including Presidents-elect Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron – along with its political, economic and social specificities.

Fifth: travelling across Italy. The G7 timetable envisages, alongside with the meeting of world leaders, a set of ministerial meeting dedicated to specific themes. Twelve reunions have already taken place under the Italian Presidency: Florence, ministers of Culture, (March 30-31); Rome, ministerial meeting on Energy (April 9-10); Lucca, the city that hosted the ministers of Foreign Affairs (April 10-11). The ministers of Finance and the Governors of G7 Central Banks gathered in Bari (May 11-13), with a stop off in Matera, European Capital of Culture 2019. After Taormina the G7 will leave for Bologna with Environment ministers (June 11-12), followed by Cagliari on June 21-22, that will host the meeting of ministers of Transport. Turin is the venue of three meetings, from September 25 to October 1st, involving the ministers of Industry, Science, and Labour. Finally, Bergamo (October 14-15) and Milan (November 5-6) will host the ministerial Health and Agriculture meetings.

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