With days to go before leaders of the world’s seven largest advanced economies meet in Canada, organizers have a problem Donald Trump is making it hard to agree on anything.
The annual gathering of the so-called G7 countries is scheduled for June 8 in Quebec, but there remains unprecedented division over the agenda and what joint statements might be issued out of the summit, according to senior officials in Europe and the United States.
And the disruptive force is Trump. From trade rules to climate change, to defense spending and the Iran nuclear deal, the U.S. president has torn up the global consensus that existed under his predecessor, Barack Obama, leaving diplomats scrambling to paper over the cracks in the Western alliance and find any common ground on which to build the event. Failure to come together would break with years of tradition at the G7 summit, which has historically served as an annual affirmation that the biggest Western powers are largely aligned.
“The Canadians have no idea what to do,” one adviser to a G7 leader said on condition of anonymity. A second aide a diplomat for a different G7 leader who has been working on the agenda for months said they have never been this close to a summit without having general agreement on what leaders would say coming out of it.
A third official working for another administration involved in the summit said the talks have been “disconnected and unfocused.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had initially wanted to use the June summit to promote issues central to his administration’s agenda, such as climate change, women’s empowerment, peace, economic growth for all and jobs for the future. The liberal leader said the G7 leaders had “a responsibility to ensure that all citizens benefit from our global economy.”
However, these goals, backed with various degrees of enthusiasm by the other leaders, clashed with Trump’s protectionist “America First” agenda, rupturing the usually consensual build-up to such events, according to senior officials across the G7.