The ‘Global Village’ of the Italian G7

Politics - June 28, 2024

What remains of the G7 meeting in Apulia under Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni’s presidency? Undoubtedly an extraordinary image of the culture, locations and traditions of our country and of Puglia in particular, but also a final declaration full of intentions and important stances taken by the Big Seven before the international scene.

It was a G7 out of the box. First of all because of the presence, for the first time in the history of these meetings, of the Pontiff. In fact, Pope Francis was present at the Outreach session, speaking (with the short version of his speech, as he sympathetically admitted) on the topic of artificial intelligence. In addition, this 2024 event also hosted several international players, such as the heads of the UN, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the African Development Bank and the African Union. Also important was the presence of international leaders such as Volodymyr Zelensky for Ukraine, and the leaders of various African and Mediterranean nations, Brazil, India and of the United Arab Emirates. This is undoubtedly an important signal that this G7 under the Italian Presidency wanted to send out: the meeting was not ‘behind closed doors’, it did not take place in a fortress to defend itself, but in a square open to the world in order to seek fair and shared development solutions. It was not a meeting of the great ones of the West against the rest of the world, and this was certainly the approach that Prime Minister Meloni had in mind when she used the metaphor of the village in her press conference. Indeed, Meloni spoke of the G7 in Apulia as a ‘global village’, a place where one can discover one’s own identity in order to have the strength and intelligence to face the challenges on the international chessboard together.

An important element, perhaps clearer to insiders than to the national and international press (busy dwelling on details that were anything but relevant), was the commonality of intent among the leaders. A closeness that is demonstrated by the fact that the G7 Final Declaration itself was already defined and completed the day before the signing, without being the subject of attritions until moments before the final ceremony. It was President Meloni herself who asked for concreteness and compactness from the leaders, obtaining in return a very broad – as often happens in these contexts – but extremely concrete and significant document, focused and centred on the global challenges that the G7 nations are called upon to face in these uncertain times.


Of course, it was impossible for this forum not to deal with major international crises such as the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza, not to mention the hotbeds of instability that continue to multiply on the global scene.

Starting with the Russian aggression against the Ukrainian territories, the commitment coming from the meeting of the seven big countries is compact and concerns, as stated by Prime Minister Meloni herself on several occasions, the defence of the system of international law that regulates relations between states. A factor that has certainly been jeopardised by Russian aggression. In this case, support for Ukraine is out of the question. A united and compact position, far from the rifts that some international players hoped to find among the Big Seven. The choice is to further strengthen the commitment to support the struggle of the Ukrainian people, and it’s worth emphasizing that the economic commitment with which the meeting closed was anything but a foregone conclusion at the start of the talks. Commitment that sees $50 billion linked to the extra profits that will be generated in the coming years by the immobilisation of Russian assets in Europe. This is a very important political step and one that is of fundamental significance in terms of unity of purpose. In the coming weeks the game will be played at the level of Foreign Ministers to define precisely how this mechanism will work. Some anticipations have already been given by leaders, including Giorgia Meloni who explained to reporters that it should be the US, Canada, the UK and Japan (after a constitutional check) that will provide the funding. At present, in fact, European nations and the EU would not be directly involved. It must be remembered that most of the Russian assets on the table are immobilised in Europe and it is therefore these countries that will have to provide guarantees for the repayment of the loan in the coming years. A decision that, in any case, will have to go through the European Council, joining the difficult game that is being played in Brussels these days.

The commitment made by the Big Seven thus confirms the support that has enabled Ukraine to avoid being defeated over the past two years. What is certain is that such a huge loan, especially at a time when the Russian forces are preparing for the new summer offensive (which could start with force as early as the next few weeks), has created some doubts as to its sustainability in the future, especially when the Russian assets should be unfrozen. A prospect that was also evoked by Prime Minister Meloni, who stressed, however, that any return of these assets would have to pass through a real peace process, in which a chapter on the costs and responsibilities of reconstruction would also be included. A path that would need solid foundations and not purely propagandistic ones, such as those contained in the proposal for peace put forward in recent days by Putin who, in fact, would only open the way to a peace process if Ukraine abandoned the Ukrainian regions.

The issue of the conflict in the Middle East was then fully addressed both in the Final Declaration signed by the Big Seven, and in the interventions of the host nations in the outreach session of the summit. In particular, the prospect – supported by the seven – of a two-state solution came back strongly, also as a long-term instrument to avert escalation in the region. A prospect that would, however, be defused immediately with the support, included in the Declaration, for the US mediation proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate release of all Israeli hostages. A process that must go hand in hand with an increase in humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, a commitment – also recalled by Prime Minister Meloni – that Italy has strongly pursued in these months of conflict.

Still looking at the global chessboard, the link (certainly emphasised by the Italian presidency) between governing migratory phenomena and the need to rethink the model of development and cooperation with the countries where the flows depart cannot fail to leap to the eye. A model that must be increasingly linked to a partnership based on a relationship between equals, so that these nations can prosper with the resources they already possess, thus eliminating all the factors that trigger migration. The important work will be that proposed by Prime Minister Meloni, i.e. the systemisation of the three major projects that are currently looking at these countries, starting from the Mattei Plan for Africa (an Italian initiative), passing through the European Union’s Global Gateway, to the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, launched two years ago by the G7 countries themselves.

It’s work that concerns clean energy, technology, agricultural production, up to the participation of African economies in the global value chain, so as to increase wealth in these nations. A new and shared approach to cooperation with the African continent is certainly the best way to tackle the emergency of governing migratory flows. A common commitment that for the first time enters the G7 agenda at the prompting of Italy. The hope is that these declarations will aim to tackle the root causes of migration, starting precisely with the right not to emigrate, finding in one’s own country all the opportunities to live a full and honourable life. Of course, the commitment cannot disregard the fight against illegal immigration and human traffickers. Prime Minister Meloni, in front of reporters, spoke of a ‘global coalition’ against traffickers, a phenomenon that generates a new form of slavery, a volume of business that currently exceeds that of weapons trafficking, and is equalled only by that of narcotics.

The model for combating this trafficking could only come from Italy. It is the famous motto ‘follow the money’ of judges Falcone and Borsellino in the fight against the mafia that is the reference that this coalition must have in battling illegal immigration. All this through a series of joint initiatives such as the exchange of information between national intelligence agencies, joint investigations and the harmonisation of legislation on the confiscation of illegal profits. On all this, the decision was taken to task the Interior Ministers with the construction of an action plan to be adopted as soon as possible.

From national identity to international challenges. The ‘global village’ evoked by Giorgia Meloni must be able, in the coming months, to follow up and give substance to what was stated in the Final Declaration. These are very urgent and heartfelt issues, especially in the European climate that sees an ongoing political reorganisation in the chancelleries and, at the same time, the spectre of instability and war on the eastern borders.