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From Scholz to Biden, a G-7 Scorecard of How Each Leader Got On

·6-min read

(Bloomberg) -- A three-day Group of Seven summit hosted by Germany ended on Tuesday, with leaders backing a plan to discuss how to cap energy prices and pledging to support Ukraine indefinitely.

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Leaders will have the opportunity to resume talks on defense and Russia’s invasion at a NATO summit in Madrid. As they make their way there from the Bavarian Alps, the following is a look at what each G-7 chief achieved.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz

What he got: Leaders sent a clear message of determination and unity in the face of Russia’s aggression. He secured an additional $4.5 billion pledge for Germany’s initiative of a global alliance for food security to avert global famine, albeit a sum that NGOs found wanting. He won backing for his pet project of a “climate club” to better coordinate national carbon-reduction schemes and avoid future trade spats over green tariffs.

Moment to remember: Scholz and his guests looked at ease in the summit’s opening stages, taking their jackets and ties off as the heat rose above 30 degrees Celsius. That might have allowed Scholz to shed even a little of his rather severe image.

Back home: Energy prices and inflation are spiraling in Germany, with the government warning of a potential “Lehman-like” moment. But as the host, Scholz stands to gain from a successful even if relatively uneventful summit at Schloss Elmau.

US President Joe Biden

What he got: G-7 leaders committed to helping Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” a show of approval for the US as the biggest supplier by far of aid for Kyiv. But a US-backed effort to cap the price of Russian oil left something to be desired. Leaders only agreed to begin exploring a cap and actual implementation looks far off, if it happens at all.

Moment to remember: Biden was not the most sociable guest and appeared subdued at times, as he skipped a dinner on the summit’s second night and kept several engagements with leaders out of the public eye.

Back home: Biden left for Europe just after the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end nationwide abortion rights. Polls show the president was in danger of losing control of Congress in November’s midterm elections amid punishing inflation and high gasoline prices. Now, Democratic leaders may be able to bank on the court decision firing up their voter base.

French President Emmanuel Macron

What he got: Macron pushed hard to have a broader oil price cap that would be negotiated with all crude producing countries. It didn’t get much traction. He was also preoccupied with the idea that some poorer nations buy Moscow’s claims that food insecurity and inflation are caused by sanctions, not Russia’s war, so the message of solidarity sent by leaders to the Global South is a win.

Moment to remember: Macron was caught on camera chasing Biden -- “Joe, Mr. President, sorry to interrupt you” -- to tell him about a call he’d had on oil prices with the United Arab Emirates ruler. Biden didn’t seem impressed.

Back home: Macron and his allies failed to retain an outright majority in the National Assembly in legislative elections earlier this month. Critics say Macron, who won a second term in April, is paying the price for being arrogant and out of touch. Foreign policy is an area where he is likely to continue to seek visibility.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

What he got: Trudeau had two priorities: to have the G-7 demonstrate unity and strength on Ukraine, and a commitment to climate action. He got one of the two. Trudeau had a private call with President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on the summit’s opening night and the Ukraine portion was a success. But the climate change message was overshadowed by the need to invest in fossil fuel production to replace Russian oil and gas.

Moment to remember: Trudeau and Johnson’s joking about taking off their shirts to mock Putin made headlines in both their countries. That’s not necessarily a good look, given Ukraine’s desperate situation.

Back home: Canada is facing skyrocketing prices and its airports are a snarled mess due to staffing shortages. Against that misery, Trudeau is in the midst of a 10-day foreign trip and risks being perceived by Canadians as missing in action right now.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson

What he got: Johnson’s key aim was to encourage fellow leaders to boost their economic, military and political support for Ukraine, while tightening sanctions on Vladimir Putin and his “cronies.” The mood music was positive, but concrete commitments are likely to have to wait for the NATO summit starting Wednesday.

Moment to remember: The prime minister enjoyed some banter with Trudeau caught on camera as leaders sat down for their first session. Noting the weather, Johnson mused whether they should take their jackets off or if they needed to show “we’re tougher than Putin.” When Trudeau jumped in with “bare-chested horseback ride” -- a reference to Putin’s infamous rides -- Johnson responded: “We’ve got to show our pecs.”

Back home: As Johnson schmoozed with fellow leaders, his Conservative colleagues were openly speculating about his future. Only last week, the party lost two parliamentary districts amid voter anger over a cost-of-living crisis and illegal parties in Downing Street during the pandemic. One-in-four of Johnson’s own MPs voted against him in a confidence vote this month, and he could face another ballot soon if rebel lawmakers are able to change the party rules to allow another challenge within a year.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida

What he got: Kishida wanted to demonstrate his strong ties with Biden and his European counterparts for a domestic audience just ahead of a key upper house election, and to keep China high on the agenda even as the region struggles with Russia’s war on Ukraine. He largely achieved his objectives.

Moment to remember: Kishida was one of the few leaders to have a bilateral sit-down with Biden, albeit brief.

Back home: It’s questionable whether any of this will help Kishida, who has been sliding in the polls ahead of the July vote. Coverage of his trip has been overshadowed by health warnings at home, amid record temperatures and a power shortage in Tokyo.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi

What he got: Draghi’s longtime idea - how to cap the cost of energy imported from Russia - was one of the key topics discussed. Even if it remains to be pinned down, the plan to evaluate such a mechanism was officially endorsed by the leaders in their final statement, a big score for Draghi.

Moment to remember: Draghi and Biden didn’t hold an official one-on-one, but they had a side chat on the first day while other leaders were enjoying the evening program.

Back home: Local ballots taking place while Draghi was in Germany pointed to a shift in voter support, with the center-left gaining ground. The results were a blow to Matteo Salvini’s League and follow a Five Star Movement split, developments that might unsettle Draghi’s coalition in coming months.

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