The G-20’s formality problem

The G-20’s formality problem

While Eurozone finance ministers put the final touches on another stop-gap measure for Greece, the foreign ministers of the G-20 met in Los Cabos, Mexico under a blanket of heavy security. Nobody expected all that much from the meeting and it appears that not much occurred. It was reported that only nine of the G-20’s foreign ministers attended the event, with ministerial no-shows including Russia, China, and India. 

Even with the size of the gathering reduced, the photo accompanying this story speaks volumes about a problem for the G-20: the often stifling formality of an initiative designed in large part to foster informal contacts between senior leaders of the world’s most powerful countries (I’m not sure a meeting titled an "Informal Meeting," emblazoned with a logo, and equipped with a dais can really be informal).

The G-20 finance ministers will meet this weekend in Mexico City, with the Eurozone crisis as the leading topic. Statements from key players such as Japan, however, already suggest that the group will not break much new ground:

The G20 is not yet ready to agree on providing more funds to the International Monetary Fund to fight Europe’s debt crisis, Japan’s finance minister said Tuesday ahead of a key meeting this weekend.

The Group of 20 nations "are not yet in a situation where they are moving in the same direction and are about to decide specific amounts" of additional funding for the IMF, Jun Azumi said at a news conference.