One legacy that the former home secretary has left the city is a meeting of the G8 Justice and Home Affairs ministers on the 15th to 17th June 2005, to be held somewhere in Sheffield. There is also a G8 Environment and Development Ministers Meeting in Derbyshire on 17-18th March, see M17 Derby - Protest the G8 for details of the critical mass and street party that is planned.
The G8 are the group at the heart of the corporate Globalization and the key exponents of a neoliberal economic agenda. This is an agenda which essentially promotes and protects free trade in all its forms. All aspects of life, from the production and exchange of essential goods and services, through to our health care and education, are to be determined by the forces of the "free market", maximising profit at any human or environmental cost. The G8 are responsible for co-coordinating a neo-liberal assault on our livelihoods, public services, jobs, wages and environment. In addition, the powerful influence of the G8 over international institutions such as the World Trade Orgainsation and the International Monetary Fund ensures that their interests dominate.
In an ever increasing climate of harsh criticism and suspicion over their agenda, the G8 have made promises on seeking solutions to the world's problems, but in reality have failed to deliver in making any progressive changes. Examples of this are their inability to cancel debts owed by the world's most poorest nations, or implement the Kyoto agreement to reduce greenhouse omissions that are killing our planet.
Over 2005, the UK holds the Presidency of the G8, and over this year will be hosting a series of ministerial meetings around the UK, culminating in the heads of state summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, on 6-8th July Ministers from the G8 countries will gather to discuss a range of issues from security, trade, relations with developing countries, energy and the environment. Even domestic issues, such as employment will be discussed. The meeting to be held in Derbyshire in March is on the enviroment and development, where as the one in Sheffield will be on justice and home affairs issues, including including counter-terrorism, migration, law enforcement, legal affairs and hi-tech crime.
Sheffield City Council appear to be welcoming the summit to Sheffield. Council Leader Jan Wilson has said that "Hosting the G8 JHA summit will put Sheffield firmly on the map..." and The Star has reported that "A huge armed police operation is expected to seal Sheffield city centre for the meeting to prevent a terror attack".
Over the past several years G8 Summits have been a focus for protests and counter summits. Following the Peoples Global Action call for a united global day of action in 1998, the Summit protests have, however, grown and strengthened, forcing the G8 Summits to more inaccesible locations with ever increasing security costs. The venue for the Ministerial meetings in Sheffield and the security implications that will follow are not yet known.
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Protests and other ideas were discussed at the Sheffield Social Forum Open Meeting on 17th February and a 'G8 mobilising' group emerged also some notes were taken and following on from this there has been discussion on the SSF list and a meeting has been organised for 2nd of March in The Rutland.
Suggestions made on the SSF list include:
- Convergence centre (which will need to have space for training, so hopefully wherever we end up with will suit your purposes John.)
- G8 Call out to get others to Sheffield - a little warm-up before the Gleneagles event.
- Some kind of counter-conference event during the actual G8 days
- A street event also