I was selected by Young European Leadership (YEL) to participate as a European Union (EU) delegate in the 2020 Y7 Summit from 1-5 June. The Y7 is the official youth engagement group to the G7 and the purpose of the Summit is to make concrete policy recommendations to global leaders. The negotiated proposals are condensed into an official statement, or communiqué, which is voted upon by consensus and then presented to government officials and policy-makers from G7 countries and the EU.
As delegates, our engagement began two months before the Summit, taking the form of internal discussions within each delegation and consultations at the national (EU) level through online surveys that gathered youth perspectives on each policy track. In particular, I was responsible for the Global Connectivity and Trade (GC&T) track. The most dense and engaging phase was negotiations with the other GC&T delegates in the last weeks before the Summit, mostly focused on the selection of recommendations and the actual wording of our track’s statement.
The Summit itself was then a moment of presentation of our work, involving exchanges with ministers, ambassadors and other high-level officials, unanimous voting and networking; I built some very nice relationships with my fellow EU and GC&T delegates.
The particularity of this year was that the Summit was held during a global pandemic, which prevented us from meeting physically in Washington, D.C. Young Professionals in Foreign Policy (YPFP), the hosting organisation, did a great job transforming the physical Y7 process into a virtual one. This was quite challenging at the beginning and slowed down negotiations, but having a longer process actually turned out to be beneficial, allowing us to produce more thorough policy proposals.
With the G7’s postponement for September, that also gives us more time to publicise our recommendations. In addition to the communiqué, we also produced a COVID-19 response statement – at the explicit request of the White House – and, in the wake of the recent racism episodes in the US, a Black Lives Matter solidarity statement.
The Youth’s voice is important because it aims at shaping the world in which we’ll live. The actions we advocate for begin with closing divides and increasing the equality of opportunities for everyone. We call for more equal access to the Internet and digital infrastructure by setting up a dedicated G7 task force. We also demand a fair and transparent regulation of data collection and usage, including Artificial Intelligence, to prevent the violation of civil liberties and privacy.
Our trade-related proposals involve making independent Sustainable Impact Assessments mandatory in trade negotiations, a “green” reform of the World Trade Organization, and solidarity initiatives for developing countries, particularly following the COVID-19 crisis. Our last section focuses on increasing progressivity of income and wealth taxation and expanding the current OECD multilateral negotiations to set up a fair international tax framework.
The work we did as Y7 delegates has already raised the attention of different G7 sherpas and government officials. We will continue pushing forward our proposals in the lead up to the G7 Summit, through both online channels and by meeting – virtually or physically – high-level policy-makers and other key stakeholders.
Enrico Nano is a PhD candidate in Development Economics.