The G7 and G20 are informal multilateral cooperation forums, which have become increasingly important in recent years. The heads of state and government of the member countries hold summit meetings at regular intervals to discuss global issues and to coordinate their actions. In addition, different ministries of these countries also meet regularly, for example the labour and employment ministers.
The “Group of Seven” (G7) includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America as well as the European Commission. The presidency of the G7 rotates between its members on an annual basis. Germany last held the G7 presidency in 2015 and is due to hold the presidency again in 2022.
G7 labour and social policy
During Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2015, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) were able to put the topic of "Standards along supply chains: promoting decent work worldwide" on the agenda. When the G7 leaders met for their summit meeting in Elmau in June 2015, they included this topic in their leaders' declaration. This marked the beginning of various concrete projects designed to advance the topic around the world, for example, in forums such as the G20 or the International Labour Organization. Since Germany’s 2015 G7 presidency, labour and employment ministers have discussed the topics of the future of work and social justice in a globalised world of work intensively.
The “Group of Twenty” (G20) has existed since 1999. However, the 2009 summit meeting of the heads of state and government of the G20 countries, which was held in Pittsburgh in the United States, marked an important turning point: Against the backdrop of the global financial and economic crisis, the leaders decided to turn the G20 into the key forum for international economic cooperation. Like the G7, the G20 is an informal forum. It is not an international organisation and thus does not have administrative staff of its own or a permanent representation of its members.
Along with Germany, the following 18 countries are members of the G20: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The EU is also represented. As is the case with the G7, the presidency rotates on an annual basis.
G20 labour and social policy
Against the backdrop of the financial and economic crisis, the 2009 G20 Pittsburgh Summit convened the first G20 Meeting of Labour and Employment Ministers in an effort to give labour and social policy the same weight in the discussions as economic and fiscal policy. The Pittsburgh leaders' statement stressed that "quality jobs are at the heart of the recovery" from the crisis. The first meeting of the G20 labour and employment ministers took place in Washington, D.C. in April 2010 under American leadership.
Germany held the G20 Presidency from 1 December 2016 until 30 November 2017. During Germany’s Presidency, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs consistently advanced the fight against inequalities and the promotion of inclusive economic growth among the G20. Together with our G20 partners, we worked on concrete policy options and recommendations to make significant progress towards achieving our joint goal of inclusive, productive, and resilient labour markets. The priority topics were:
- improving the quality of employment for women
- integrating migrants and refugees in the labour market
- promoting sustainable global supply chains
- shaping the future of work
Germany’s G20 Presidency was followed by Argentina’s Presidency in 2018 and Japan’s Presidency in 2019. Since 1 December 2019, Saudi Arabia has held the Presidency. Saudi Arabia has set the following priorities in the area of labour and social policy: 1. youth employment, 2. future of work and 3. "behavioural insights". In addition, gender equality is a cross-cutting issue in all working groups.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the impact of the crisis on jobs and social security has also played an important role for the G20 and in the G20 working groups. A virtual G20 Labour and Employment Ministers Meeting was held on this topic in April 2020 to discuss measures to overcome the social and employment policy challenges posed by the crisis. With the adoption of a joint statement, the ministers supported cooperation between their countries and joint work on solutions to cushion the effects of the pandemic around the world. This year’s Labour and Employment Ministers meeting on 9 and 10 September 2020 is to spell out the decisions in more detail.