Alex M. Brill and James K. Glassman of the National Taxpayers Union argue that the G20 needs clear admission standards to boost the grop's legitimacy. They offer a set of criteria for judging admission and assess whether current G20 members meet those standards.
A recent headline on the front page of the New York Times summed up the dire state of the efforts to remedy a weakening global economy: "In Economic Deluge, a World That's Unable to Bail Together."
A key reason is that the organization established to do the job—the Group of Twenty, or G20—is facing a crisis of its own. On the eve of the June 18–19 meeting of G20 heads of state in Los Cabos, Mexico, critics say that it lacks the necessary will and authority to deal with the immense problems at hand. This paper makes the case that correcting this deficiency is essential, and that the most important change must be made at the most basic level: the G20 cannot achieve adequate legitimacy until it adopts clear criteria for membership.
Remarkably, since its founding thirteen years ago, the G20 has lacked transparent rules governing its membership. As a result, there has been an erosion of trust among the nearly two hundred nations that are not part of the group but are affected by its decisions. Without legitimacy, the G20 cannot lead.
This paper identifies specific membership criteria and shows the effect they will have on the G20's composition. Setting clear criteria will be controversial—in part because it will require the replacement of several current members. Such change may be painful, but with another recession beginning in Europe, uncertainty over the future of the euro, sluggish growth in the United States, and weakness among developing economies, reform must happen soon if the G20 is to work constructively to help foster economic growth and financial-market stability.