News / USA

Europe's Economic Woes Shadow G8 Summit

Kent Klein
The leaders of the Group of Eight major economies plan to address Africa's food security when they meet at a mountain retreat near Washington, DC this week.  But, Europe's economic situation will demand much of the group's attention.
 
The European debt crisis, and its possible effects on the world economy, will be on the minds of the G8 leaders when they meet at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland.

French President Francois Hollande will be among the new leaders attending their first G8 meeting.  He will visit President Barack Obama at the White House before the summit.  Mr. Hollande replaces Nicolas Sarkozy, who was voted out of office after embracing unpopular austerity measures.

Few analysts expect the G8 leaders to support a major change in Europe's economic approach.

But with Greece's continued euro zone membership in jeopardy, Simon Johnson of the Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics says the G8 should address a bigger question.

"Well, hopefully, it's all on the table," said Johnson. "Hopefully, the Americans and the others will be pressing the Europeans to rethink the structure of the euro zone and to come up with something that is much more sustainable, for example, a more unified fiscal entity."

President Obama repeatedly has expressed confidence that Europe's leaders can solve the problem, and has been reluctant to commit U.S. money to a European bailout.

Economist Simon Johnson says that if Europe cannot avert a deeper crisis, Mr. Obama might not win reelection in November.

"The American economy looks somewhat precarious," he said. "The recovery is stuttering.  If there is a major sovereign debt disaster and/or financial market calamity in Europe, that cannot be good for President Obama's reelection prospects."

One G8 leader will be absent from Camp David.  Recently-inaugurated Russian President Vladimir Putin says he has business to attend to at the Kremlin.  Prime Minister and former president Dmitry Medvedev will attend in his place.

One of the main agenda items at the G8 Summit will be food security in Africa.  President Obama is expected to announce a new plan to improve agricultural development on the continent.  He has invited the leaders of Benin, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tanzania to Camp David to discuss the issue.

Kristin Wedding of Global Food Security Project at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies says Mr. Obama is putting a spotlight on the issue.

"Food security has been really a cornerstone of President Obama's foreign policy agenda," said Wedding. "And by bringing over the four African leaders, he is really wanting to highlight the investments the United States has made in Africa, and the successes we have already seen."

The Obama administration made a three-year, $3.5 billion commitment in 2009 to long-term global food security and agricultural development.

Kristin Wedding expects the president to press for continued commitments from other G8 members, and for new donors to contribute.

"These are really long-term investments that are needed," she said. "So instead of just providing short food aid when there is a famine, these efforts are really intended to improve long-term food security."

Several of the G8 leaders will go directly from Camp David to Chicago for the NATO Summit.  The G8 summit initially was planned to be held in Chicago, but Mr. Obama moved it to Camp David, a more remote location that is less accessible to protesters.  

The G8 nations are Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs