Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hosting a G7 summit of leaders at Carbis Bay, Cornwall this week. Among attendees are US President Joe Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, along with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council head Charles Michel. The meeting comes at a turbulent time for the world due to the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing issues between the UK and the EU, so here are four potentially controversial issues which may come up in discussions between world leaders in Cornwall.
The UK and the US have succeeded in vaccinating the majority of citizens, but both are facing pressure to share their surplus vaccines with countries struggling to obtain them.
With leaders of some of the world’s richest countries attending the summit in Cornwall, there is significant pressure on all to help other nations access vaccinations.
Boris Johnson announced earlier this week the UK will donate at least 100 million surplus vaccines to other countries in the next year.
This will include five million doses by the end of September 2021.
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But the Government has faced criticism for not going far enough to support the worldwide vaccination effort.
The White House announced this year that the US would support an intellectual property waiver on Covid vaccines, and this was backed by some European leaders too.
But the UK and Germany have not backed the proposal yet, despite calls from experts to do so to help countries secure vaccines.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire said: “With high vaccination rates in rich countries while low and middle-income nations suffer, we are watching a system of vaccine apartheid develop.
“There is no justification for the needless loss of life in the months since India and South Africa first requested an intellectual property waiver.
“These are global public goods, developed largely with public funding; they belong to all of us.
“Boris Johnson must do what is right and support this waiver, for all of humanity”.
Boris Johnson and the EU
Issues are ongoing over the terms of the Brexit deal, and it will likely be a topic of major discussion among Boris Johnson and EU leaders at the summit.
Northern Ireland has suffered significant delays on goods and essentials entering the region following the initiation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Protocol has also been criticised by some who see it as responsible for setting up a border in the Irish Sea.
The UK has signalled it would be prepared to delay the full implementation of the Protocol to prevent a ban on chilled meats entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, which is due to come into place from the end of this month.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has urged the EU to take a more “pragmatic” approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol issue.
Mr Raab told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “They can be more pragmatic about the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that is win-win or they can be bloody-minded and purist about it, in which case I am afraid we will not allow the integrity of the UK to be threatened.”
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“That agreement must be protected, and any steps that imperil or undermine it will not be welcomed by the United States.”
And while the topic did come up in the initial discussions between the pair earlier this week, Mr Johnson said all were on the same page about the significance of the issue.
Mr Johnson said after his meeting with the president: “There’s complete harmony on the need to keep going, find solutions, and make sure we uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
“And I think what’s interesting is Northern Ireland is a fantastic place and it’s got amazing potential. It is a great, great part of the UK.”
He added: “America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do.
“And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”
While it appears a major clash over the issue has been avoided for now, the discussion could arise again between the two leaders in the future.
France and the UK
Relations between the UK and France have been somewhat frosty since the UK fully left the EU behind last year.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal agreed between the UK and the EU, the Northern Ireland Protocol has caused major disruption for trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK in recent months.
The issue could prove to be a heated topic of discussion between French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Johnson at the G7 summit.
Mr Macron has been outspoken with his criticism of the UK following their exit from the EU, and ahead of his visit for the summit he warned that “nothing is negotiable” over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Reuters understands Mr Macron offered a reset to relations with Britain providing Mr Johnson sticks to the terms of the Brexit deal.
A source told the news agency: “The president told Boris Johnson there needed to be a reset of the Franco-British relationship.
“This can happen provided that he keeps his word with the Europeans.”