G8 membership largely reflects the 1970s' international power structure. Accordingly, the Group of Eight leading industrial nations is facing a double crisis of legitimacy and efficiency. As it does not include developing countries, the G8 is unable to set priorities for the international community, and this fact, in itself, reduces its capacity to broker solutions to pressing global problems. While the Heiligendamm summit was a step in the right direction, many questions about representation persist.

Technically, enlargement was not on the agenda of this year's G8 summit. However, an important underlying theme was the relationship between the G8 and big emerging markets. In the end, the summit was marked by a move to formalise G8 relations with the O5.

Of course, the O5 had already been invited to expanded talks on selected topics at previous G8 summits. Still, it was the prerogative of the summit host to decide to whom the "outreach branch" was extended. In 2003, Jacques Chirac, then president of France, invited several of the rising powers to discuss a diffuse agenda at Evian. Two years later, Tony Blair, at the time prime minister of Britain, combined O5 participation on climate change and energy security with African participation on debt relief and development assistance at Gleneagles.

Last year Russian President Vladimir Putin was reluctant to invite even the O5 to St. Petersburg. Their eventual involvement indicated that host prerogative had been trumped by the logic of including indispensable leaders. Indeed, the idea of the O5 acting as "anchors" in their respective regions for G8 activities is growing ever more popular.

Additionally, concerns about Russia's "managed democracy" had weakened the argument that this was a club of democracies, opening the door not only to robust democracies such as India and Brazil but also to authoritarian China.

At Heiligendamm, the O5 were officially invited to the next two summits. Moreover, it is clear that this invitation is to be followed up by some stable arrangement for the future. The OECD has been asked to facilitate this "Heiligendamm Process". Whether this will lead to the establishment of a permanent secretariat for the G8 remains to be seen. Nonetheless, it was the first time the G8, which is basically an informal setting for discussing policy rather than making binding agreements, assigned the OECD, a formalised multilateral institution, with a job of this kind.

Today, it is undisputed that major international challenges cannot be addressed without ongoing cooperation of the large countries of the Global South. Blair, for example, stated that Heiligendamm's breakthrough on climate change would not have been possible without the ongoing G8 plus O5 dialogue that evolved out of the 2005 meeting.

Does the Heiligendamm Process mean that the G8 is willing to consider moving from extending outreach offers to those of membership in a G13? Alternatively, do these countries even want to be part of an enlarged club? All of them, after all, have diverse options outside of the G8, including championing the traditional sense of solidarity with the developing world and emerging regional associations. In this sense, the window of opportunity to socialise China vis-à-vis democratic governance structures may be closing as its leadership may soon decide that it need not bother with the G8 at all.

These questions are not only at the centre of the internal G8 debate on expansion. They are also what O5 members are grappling with, as witnessed by the holding of their own meeting in Berlin prior to the Heiligendamm summit. Some observers in these countries even demand that a parallel and distinctive O5 summit be established. The G8's future relevance - both in terms of making the global political architecture more inclusive and setting the international agenda - will depend on the O5 countries' willingness and ability to participate. Such cooperation, however, may well be contingent on how this initiative fits into other complex negotiation processes through the UN and the WTO.

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