The concept of a forum for the world’s major industrialized democracies emerged following the 1973 oil crisis. In 1974, a series of meetings in the library of the White House in Washington, D.C. was known as the “Library Group”. This was an informal gathering of senior financial officials from the United States, the United Kingdom, West Germany, Japan and France. In 1975, French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invited the heads of government from West Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States to a summit in Château de Rambouillet. The six leaders agreed to an annual meeting organized under a rotating presidency, forming the Group of Six (G6). The following year, Canada joined the group at the behest of Germany’s Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and U.S. President Gerald Ford and the group became the Group of Seven (G7). The European Union is represented by the President of the European Commission and the leader of the country that holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union. The President of the European Commission has attended all meetings since it was first invited by the United Kingdom in 1977 and the Council President now also regularly attends.
Following 1994’s G7 summit in Naples, Russian officials held separate meetings with leaders of the G7 after the group’s summits. This informal arrangement was dubbed the Political 8 (P8) – or, colloquially, the G7+1. At the invitation of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair and President of the United States Bill Clinton, Russia formally joined the group in 1997, resulting in the Group of Eight, or G8.