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So on Friday in Cornwall: Biden, Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson will push for the group to jointly donate a billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine to developing countries. In the same vein, Johnson will push for a “Climate Marshall Plan,” along with broader efforts for global economic recovery that reduces inequality. China will soon find out that you are on the menu when you are not at the table.
Speaking of menus, Ugly Butterfly serves up velvet crabs, Dover sole, haggis mousse, and pineapple weed (think wild chamomile) from Ugly Butterfly, a service that uses discarded food to reduce waste.
A note from the pews: journalists found the summit organization unusually cumbersome – much of it due to Covid complications, some due to cicadas – there is even a hotel in Cornwall where journalists were closed after a Covid outbreak.
Don’t worry: we are here for you.
Biden is keen to see the US regain leadership in the world, but he will find that a lot has changed in the past four years. Other countries, mostly European allies including the UK, France and Germany, have tried to fill the void the US has left on a myriad of issues from containing Iran’s nuclear ambitions to combating climate change, and they are may not seek to give up on this achievement.
Emmanuel Macron has no intention of giving up the role he played in Trump’s time: to uphold the walls of a multilateral system abandoned by the US. During a press conference yesterday at the Elysee Palace, he revealed that the trauma of the Trump years is still there and Europe still intends to do it beware of the vagaries of American moods.
The European heads of state and government publicly applauded Biden’s move Make America’s global reputation great again, but they were also reluctant at the fact that the US had effectively banned the export of vaccines for more than a year in order to vaccinate its own people. The EU’s Ursula von der Leyen used a press conference to reiterate that the EU had served as the world’s largest exporter of vaccines, citing Biden’s announcement of vaccine donations “Potential.”
Biden and Boris Johnson were denied total love – they tried to serve afterwards The times of London reported that Washington’s senior diplomat in London called a UK minister earlier this month offer a reprimand on the UK’s handling of the Northern Ireland Protocol. In the public Biden played well over Brexit,
China is the elephant in the room. Biden wants a hard and united front, but the French government wants Europe to shape its own China policy in the spirit of “strategic autonomy” instead of following the example of the US. Angela Merkel is less interested in exposing Beijing’s human rights violations than in stimulating car sales. But Beijing has shaken a once positive sentiment with Europe by sanctioning European parliamentarians.
Biden is an old hand at summits, and the fact that he meets a number of allies first before meeting Russian leader Vladimir Putin is by design. Partly it will warm him up before the Putin meeting, but it is also a diplomatic show of power by the democracies against China and Russia. When you see Biden laughing, patting people on the shoulders, and nodding with a smile, it means he is feeling pretty good. A quiet, stern bidding could signal that all is not well.
Kumar: While Biden has important meetings in Cornwall and Brussels, in the US he will likely be judged after the Putin meeting. His administration has downplayed the possibility of a larger political settlement, which is all the more why Biden is being judged on how he deals with the criticism he’s already getting for proposing the meeting in the first place.
Restoring unity in the club of great democracies is a big deal for a country like Canada. Trudeau and Canadian officials are focusing on three Cs: Covid-19, China, and Climate. They believe the G-7 will make progress in the fight against China in areas such as human rights, and they will work to advance commitments on democracy, gender and oceans.
Weber: Johnson wants to make progress on climate change with a look at the next UK-hosted summit, COP26. Oh, and according to the London Playbook, if he doesn’t make Biden laugh, he’ll consider it a failure.
When France’s Macron is in the public eye of this OTT, the guides will have to prepare privately for a very special show. Macron is hyperactively pushing for more coordinated global Covid-19 action – from vaccine donations to health system funding. He also went where Biden didn’t dare: he publicly told Boris Johnson that he was “not serious” about how he was dealing with Brexit.
Kumar: Biden has repeatedly insisted that his foreign policy will strengthen his domestic policy, which directly benefits the average American at home. The concept is not entirely new to him as we wrote this week, but some observers say he is now focusing more on it as he tries to appeal to the working class voters who helped him win in 2020.
America is back, and now it has the vaccines to prove it. It’s a great gesture that will put pressure on other rich countries to step up their vaccine donation game, and it counteracts China and Russia’s vaccine diplomacy towards poor countries that either couldn’t afford them or were at the bottom of the line for Pfizer and Moderna Vaccines. The US donation of 580 million cans dwarfs China’s 23 million and Russia’s 187,000 cans.
The next real test: Dealing with the need for Pfizer ultra-cold storage vaccines: We have already seen some poor countries destroy or return AstraZeneca cans for not being able to use them before the expiration date.
Toosi: Frankly, did it have to happen somehow for this White House to be credible to the developing world? One cannot blame Donald Trump for saying goodbye to global leadership and then not taking such a step. And don’t be surprised if countries across the board demand even more from the US. How the Biden administration reacts to such demands later will be very interesting.
Kumar: I totally agree with Carmen and Nahal. If Biden wants the United States to take the lead, he has to step up. Health organizations and human rights groups had urged the United States to do more. This step is an example for other countries.
Pagan: Allies like Belgium – which is home to Pfizer’s largest factory – are upset with how things are going. Belgian Prime Minister told me that Biden had been prioritizing American vaccine production for months and controlling exports of vaccine raw materials, undercutting global production. Now they are concerned about lengthy disruptions in these very sensitive supply chains because Biden insists on making the donated cans at home.
Weber: Determined not to be left out, the UK has announced that it will send 100 million vaccines around the world. The amount is not as important as the signal it sends: Boris Johnson is currently under fire domestically from across the political spectrum for cutting the UK aid budget from 0.7 percent to 0.5 percent of national income. This allows him to argue that he is not as inward-looking as his critics claim.
Toosi: The document is not as boring as these documents seem. In any case, it looks quite modern and forward-looking. But I am interested in this line: ‘We will work through the rules-based international order in order to tackle global challenges together.’ Something like that annoys Moscow and Beijing, who have a different view of the ‘rules’ and the ‘international order’. “
Weber: The charter may be full of lofty ideals and vague overtures, but as a symbol it is quite helpful. Both governments are trying to stabilize the boat after Trump’s tumultuous years, and it’s a great way to add some weight to those efforts. The document serves to underline a real consensus – the need for democracies to hold together as a counterbalance to China and Russia – but cannot completely detract from the ongoing tensions surrounding Northern Ireland.
Now that all of the G-7 leaders are in Cornwall, it is time for the special guests to arrive: the leaders of India, South Africa, South Korea and Australia. That’s all part of Boris Johnson’s plan to give the G-7 a shine and eventually turn the group into a D-10 or D-11, where the D stands for democracy.
See you in a couple of hours to wrap up the great first day.