G20 diary: Yes we almost Cannes
I’ve managed to grab a quick break in the G20 media centre to scribble out a few thoughts over what has been a furious 24 hours of lobbying here in Cannes.
In that time, union leaders have met with most G20 heads of state, as well as with the heads of the IMF, UN, World Bank, OECD, ILO, and the European institutions. We’ve been running across the lurid green carpet of the Press Centre, doing interviews whenever the media are able to look beyond Athens. (Philip Jennings, the General Secretary of Uni Global Union is next to me being interviewed by Le Monde trying to figure out the French for “deficit hawks” so he can insult them).
Beneath the unfolding Greek drama, we’re got some real progress in getting countries to sign up to a Financial Transactions Tax, and commitments to take forward G20 work on employment and social protection, but the spectre of failing to reign in the financial markets remains strong.
There has been definite progress in securing a Financial Transactions Tax. While it appears that the summit will just “acknowledge” that some countries are in favour of this idea, the key point is that more of them are now publicly taking this position. South Africa, Argentina and critically Brazil have now come out publicly in favour – which is the best case scenario that campaigners were predicting and working towards.
The US appears to be relaxing its opposition to an FTT, leaving the UK and Canada more and more isolated. Nearly all the other countries are undecided, wanting more technical detail on how the tax would work, and what the revenue raised would be used for. There is everything to play for in the coming months.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon dropped by to meet with us for the first time ever at a G20 event. While he was characteristically measured, he did speak passionately off script about why he showed up: to help magnify the critical message that labour was pushing, and that much more needed to be done to address the incredibly difficult plight of migrant workers from across the globe. He highlighted the situation in Libya where migrant workers fleeing the conflict should be given the right to return to their jobs and to get any entitlements they were owed.
Random fact: Obama’s motorcade seemed to be as long as the Cannes coastline, but I can’t be sure, the curvature of the Earth was blocking my view. But not as long as the queue to the journalists’ free lunch buffet that I’m about to gatecrash…