What is the G8?

Ministry of Defence said:
The G8 (Group of 8) is made up of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the USA and the UK. The EU is represented by Jose Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, and Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council. The Presidency of the G8 rotates each calendar year and the country holding the G8 Presidency is responsible for hosting and organising the annual summit, with a number of preparatory meetings leading up to it. The summit is an opportunity for G8 leaders to have frank and open discussions about the important global issues of the day. In 2013 it will be the UK’s turn to shape the G8’s approach to these discussions with G8 leaders holding each other to account and agreeing concrete steps to advance growth and prosperity across the world.
[h=2]History of the G8[/h]In 1973 the world experienced its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The finance ministers of the USA, UK, France and West Germany met informally to talk about how they could solve the economic problems linked with the oil price shock. In 1974 Japan was invited to the meetings and in 1975 the French President brought these informal discussions to the leaders. He also invited Italy to what was the first G6 in Rambouillet, France. There was no army of political advisers in tow, just the leaders in a relaxed and private setting. This low-key formula was very successful and the leaders agreed to meet annually. A year later Canada joined and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia became a full member in 1998. The EU has been part of the group since 1977, but does not hold a Presidency. Almost 40 years on, the G8 countries can provide guidance and stability in an unpredictable world.
[h=2]What does the Presidency involve?[/h]The G8 Presidency runs for 1 calendar year and rotates among the 8 member countries. The country chairing the Presidency is responsible for shaping the issues that leaders discuss at the G8 Summit and hosts a number of preparatory meetings leading up to the summit. It also acts as the spokesperson for the G8.
The UK Presidency is an opportunity for the UK to influence the international debate on our global priorities, which include tax, trade and transparency. At the end of this year, the UK will hand over the Presidency to Russia for 2014. The Presidency will continue in its rotation to Germany in 2015, Japan in 2016, Italy in 2017, Canada in 2018, France in 2019, and the USA in 2020 before it returns to the UK.
[h=2]What does the G8 do?[/h]The G8 is a forum that provides the opportunity for its members to co-operate in addressing global challenges. The standards it sets, commitments it makes and steps it takes aim to drive prosperity and economic growth all over the world. Prime Minister David Cameron has said that this year the G8 will return to its roots, creating the right environment for frank and open discussions to promote growth and address global economic problems. There will be a short declaration aimed at holding G8 leaders to account and ensuring that good intentions become vital actions to advance growth and prosperity across the world.