France says 2011 make or break year for G20
French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said on Thursday that 2011 is a make or break year for the G20 forum of top global economies to prove its worth by tackling economic reform or risk being marginalised.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has set as G20 priorities a major overhaul of the global economy's infrastructure, including a reforming the monetary system and ending excessive price swings in commodity markets, as well as improving economic governance.
"The G20 must show that it remains capable of making decisions and implementing them, otherwise other institutions may try to supplant it," Fillon said at a conference on economic change.
France currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20 forum of the world's 20 largest economies, and also this year chairs the G8, comprised of six major Western powers, Russia and Japan.
"The G20 must successfully address the major projects that have been on hold for many years," Fillon said.
As the crisis passes, so will the sense of urgency and the temptation will be to slow down on reforms, he said.
"Now that the risk seems far away, momentum and vigilance must not fail. The future and legitimacy of the G20 depend on it," he said.
Britain's finance minister George Osborne said he believed the future of the G20 depends on the success of the French presidency.
"I think you have an enormous responsibility in the next year to prove that the G20 is relevant as an important international institution going forward, because if the French can't make a success of the G20, then I don't see who can," Osborne said.
He expressed confidence that the French presidency would in fact succeed.
"All the signs are good, all the signs are pointing in the right direction," said Osborne.
France has so far been rather muted about its G20 plans, with Sarkozy expected to formally kick off the presidency which lasts until mid-November with a January 24 press conference.
On January 10 he is due to discuss his plans with his US counterpart Barack Obama.
© 2011 AFP