Does the world need the G20?

Germany is picking up the pieces - also in a political sense - after the G20 summit. Although the states that attended affirmed their commitment to free trade they also made concessions to US President Donald Trump. Nineteen participants backed the Paris climate agreement while the US opposed it. Europe's press discusses whether the G20 still makes sense.

Open/close all quotes
Spiegel Online (DE) /

These summits achieve nothing

Spiegel Online takes a dim view of the summit's achievements:

“The US still refuses to cooperate on climate protection, there are vague plans to help Africa and everyone wants free trade. It has to be said that our esteemed leaders could have got that far in a telephone conference. Granted, when the summit was planned it was impossible to know that a political good-for-nothing like Donald Trump would now be sitting in the White House. But even then it should have been clear that this meeting of thousands of delegates and entailing huge restrictions for Hamburg's population would hardly justify the effort. It's high time we thought up new formats in which the heads of state and government can exchange their views.”

El País (ES) /

G20 also stands for opportunities

Despite all its shortcomings the G20 summit remains extremely useful, El País argues:

“Multilateralism is the only way to bring a minimum of order into our complex world with its enormous challenges. … If there is a chance to make globalisation work in everyone's favour it's at global forums like the G20 that that possibility could materialise. … The good news is that the G20 is still advancing, even if this time it was a G19. Luckily Trump won't be able to stop globalisation or global government because all the other states have a direct interest in ensuring it continues. There will never be a G0, or even the G1 Trump dreams of. Europe, which signed a crucial free trade agreement with Japan this week and has just ratified another with Canada, must continue to aim for multilateralism. With or without Trump.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

An image catastrophe for Germany

Summit hopes and summit realities clashed at several levels in Hamburg, Rzeczpospolita observes:

“The G20 turned into an image catastrophe with potential political consequences for Germany. In the context of this meeting between Trump and Putin Merkel's agenda was of secondary importance. And the meeting between Merkel and Putin in Macron's presence revealed the powerlessness of Western Europe when it comes to the future of Ukraine. … Then we have the images of Hamburg's burning streets that went around the world, the violent clashes between anti-globalisation activists and police and the banners reading 'Welcome to hell'. These scenes conjure up the image of an approaching apocalypse rather than that of a new German leadership of the EU.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Trump came, saw and conquered

The G20 summit was a complete victory for Donald Trump, La Repubblica is convinced:

“The final document contains not only the affirmation that the US will revoke its commitment to the [Paris climate] agreement and continue on its own course. It goes a step further and makes a key concession to the US delegation, authorising America to set its own agenda. In a key passage the US is allowed to 'cooperate with other partners for a cleaner and more efficient use of fossil fuels'. Translated: the G20 gives a green light for US gas exports to Europe. Exactly the opposite of what the fight against climate change demands.”