G7 may agree new jobs summit

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The Independent Online

Halifax, Nova Scotia

One surprise outcome of the 21st economic summit may be a second special jobs summit, to be held in France next year, it was revealed yesterday.

And Group of Seven leaders appear set to acknowledge the recent faltering in world economic recovery and the need to achieve soft landings across the world.

If the summit does announce a fresh initiative on jobs and a new concern about the state of the world economy, it will be in marked contrast to the draft communique leaked last week. That document, drawn up at the end of May, talked complacently about conditions of "robust" economic growth and had nothing new to offer on solving the employment crisis afflicting so many Western economies. The first special jobs summit was held two years ago in Detroit.

A principal focus of the Halifax summit will be the decisions of world leaders on the review of international institutions started at last year's summit in Naples. Broad agreement has been reached on what to do with international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, but the G7 is still deadlocked over what to do about reforming the United Nations.

The British will be pressing for a hard line, senior sources revealed yesterday. Their view is that big changes in the funding and remit of the UN are necessary.

With the cost of peacekeeping operations rising exponentially, the UN faces a budget crisis. Against this background the UK is calling for reform of the UN's funding system, which sources described as old and inefficient.

With UN resources running out, this amounts to a call for countries like Germany and Japan to pitch in with more money. The difficulty the British face is that the Germans and Japanese are likely to demand a seat on the Security Council as the price for contributing more funds - a demand the British are resisting.

Despite a year of international deliberation into the future of international financial institutions, the most concrete reform that will emerge from the G7 summit was triggered by the crisis in Mexico. The IMF will create a new "emergency financing mechanism" backed by an additional $27bn of resources from G7 countries and other rich nations. The IMF is also expected to be given additional surveillance powers in order to try to prevent problems like Mexico blowing up from out of the blue.