What is the G8?
During the 1970s, the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, and Italy formed the Group of Six (G6) as an informal grouping of advanced industrialized economies that would meet annually to discuss matters of political and economic significance. Canada was added in 1976 to form the Group of 7 (G7). In 1997, Russia joined, creating the Group of 8 (G8).
The European Union also participates in the G8 and is represented by the Presidents of the European Council and the European Commission.
During the early 1970s, the United States held a series of informal meetings with financial officials from the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan, and France to discuss economic challenges facing advanced industrial economies. In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited the heads of state and government from these countries and Italy to Rambouillet, France for a summit to discuss the oil crisis and economic recovery. That meeting – the first G6 Summit – released in a fifteen point declaration and agreed to hold an annual summit under a rotating presidency among the members.
The following year, Canada was invited to join the group for a summit in Puerto Rico under the presidency of the United States, forming the Group of Seven (G7) in 1976.
In 1977, the President of the European Commission was invited to attend the meeting. The President of the European Council now regularly attends as well.
Russia began to engage in separate meetings with G7 leaders in 1994 and formally joined the group in 1997 at the invitation of U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair. The group then became the Group of Eight (G8) as it is known today.
The G8 Presidency rotates among the members annually. The nation holding the presidency hosts the summit.
In 2012, the United States will host the G8 for the sixth time. Previous U.S.-hosted summits were held in Dorado, Puerto Rico in 1976, Williamsburg, Virginia in 1983, Houston, Texas in 1990, Denver, Colorado in 1997, and Sea Island, Georgia in 2004.