LONDON, UK — The G8 summit closed Tuesday afternoon with firm agreement on what should be done about tax evasion but far less certainty about Syria’s deadly civil war.
At the end of a two-day meeting in Northern Ireland, the leaders of some of the world’s most powerful countries presented the Lough Erne Declaration addressing transparency, resource use and tax fairness.
The biggest surprise in the 10-point plan was that any of its statements needed to be spelled out.
“Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes, and multinationals should report to tax authorities what tax they pay where,” the one-page statement read. “Companies should know who really owns them and tax collectors and law enforcers should be able to obtain this information easily.”
British Prime Minister and summit host David Cameron was quick to correct any perceptions the declaration was toothless rhetoric.
“These are really strong commitments that have never been written down and then signed,” he said.
Leaders brushed off criticism that disagreements over Syria overshadowed the summit. The group pledged $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid to deal with the crisis, which Cameron acknowledged as “the most difficult issue of all.”
Syria has dominated relations between most G8 members and Russia, whose President Vladimir Putin calls Bashar al-Assad’s regime “legitimate.”
The closing statement condemned chemical weapons use in Syria and called for an international conference on the crisis. It stopped short of advocating for intervention or mentioning Assad’s fate.
The summit in Northern Ireland — a region beset by domestic terrorism less than a generation ago — was tight on security and low on demonstrations. The UK spent an estimated $75 million on security, according to the Guardian, although the 8,000 police officers on duty had made just two arrests by Monday.
By Tuesday afternoon, it looked as if life was getting back to normal in Lough Erne.
“You can tell G8 summit in N Ireland is nearly over. Just saw a police car on its own, rather than in blue-flashing 20-strong armed convoy,” BBC reporter Mark Simpson tweeted.