Is the G8 group of industrialized nations still relevant?

A French policeman stands in front of the Deauville International Center, venue of the upcoming G8 Summit.

HOBSON: The leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized nations -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the U.S. -- have started their annual meeting in Deauville, France. There are a lot of economic and political items on the agenda.

And we're going to get the latest now from David Shorr. He's a senior policy analyst at the Stanley Foundation. And he's with us from Deauville. Good morning.

DAVID SHORR: Good morning.

HOBSON: Well, tell us about what the hot topics there are today at the G8.

SHORR: Well, of course they're figuring out how to respond to the democratic changes sweeping through the Middle East and North Africa. Arab Spring is a hot topic, so is the euro crisis. They are talking about a new director for the IMF. And aid to Africa, nuclear security, nuclear safety after Japan -- really a pretty varied menu.

HOBSON: And these are the richest nations in the world. This is going on in Europe. Do they tend to focus more on stuff like the European debt crisis than the Arab Spring or the things happening in the developing world?

SHORR: In a funny way, the history of the G8 is to deal more with economic issues. But of course now we have the G20, which is really where those are supposed to be dealt with. The older, major industrial powers together with the emerging economies and the rising powers. And so that means that where we are now -- an issue like the Arab Spring is more appropriate for the G8.

HOBSON: Well we do have the G20. Do you think that the G8 is losing some of its relevance?

SHORR: I think it's a struggle. They have to show their relevance. They're groping for a new role. You really have the question, what can you deal with? What problems in the world can you really effectively address when you don't have the emerging powers at the table with you?

HOBSON: David Shorr, senior policy analyst at the Stanley Foundation. Thanks so much for your time.

SHORR: Thank you.

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