Skip to content
Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally

Australian Government - Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Advancing the interests of Australia and Australians internationally



1.1.4 Europe

Overview

Photo - See caption below for description
Australian Ambassador to Germany, Mr Peter Tesch, addressing guests in the embassy’s courtyard for the presentation of the German edition of the memoirs of Australian holocaust survivor, Ms Sabina Wolanski, on 12 May 2010.
Photo: Marko Priske, Stiftung Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas/Holocaust Memorial, Berlin

The department maintained the momentum in Australia–Europe relations in 2009–10, reflecting Europe’s economic and political importance to Australia and our shared approaches to major global challenges.

European integration took a historic step forward with the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon. The department advised the Government on the implications for Australia of the treaty, including the creation of new European Union (EU) leadership structures and new powers for the European Parliament. We supported Foreign Minister Smith’s engagement with the new High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton.

We worked closely with the European Commission (EC) and European member countries of the G20 to respond to the global economic crisis. We led whole-of-government negotiations to update the Australia–EU Partnership Framework and advanced Australia’s economic and political interests with the EU through the Framework’s broad agenda of cooperation.

We led Australia’s inaugural participation in activities of the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) and helped shape the agenda for the ASEM Summit to be held in October 2010, where Australia formally will take up its membership.

Australia became an Asian Partner for Co-operation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), strengthening our profile on international security issues in Europe and Central Asia.

We continued to build closer ties with individual EU member states and other European countries in support of Australia’s political and security interests. We worked with Australian business to support trade and investment and win better access to European markets.

European Union

The Australia–EU Partnership Framework is a flexible blueprint for practical cooperation between Australia and the EU in the pursuit of common objectives, including an ambitious trade and investment agenda. The department led work that added 19 new initiatives to the updated Partnership Framework, launched in October 2009. Completed activities include signing a Security of Information Agreement and concluding negotiations on an amended Mutual Recognition Agreement. Australian and European officials held an inaugural officials-level dialogue on counter-terrorism and Australia and the EU launched pilot projects for twinned research. With AusAID, we continued to pursue arrangements for delegated aid delivery with the EU, aiming to maximise aid outcomes by capitalising on each party’s networks and expertise in the Pacific and Africa. An Australia–EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement, which the Government had aimed to conclude in the year under review, remains under negotiation.

FIGURE 11. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION (a)

FIGURE 11. Australia’s trade in goods and services with the European Union

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

The department increased engagement with the EU and the EC on G20 issues, including through the first European Commission—Australia Macro-Economic and Financial Dialogue which took place in May 2010 in Canberra. Dialogue with the EC also addressed common approaches to trade liberalisation and progress towards the conclusion of the Doha Round.

In February 2010, we hosted the sixth Australia–EC Trade Policy Dialogue (TPD) between senior officials in Canberra, promoting Australian approaches to the WTO Doha Round negotiations, FTAs and bilateral trade and regulatory issues. We pursued the interests of the services industry in improved market access, particularly for professional services. We continued efforts to ensure the effectiveness of our agreement with the EU to provide early warning of regulatory measures that could affect trade.

We worked with the European Australian Business Council (EABC) to expand links between the Australian and European business communities. A senior-level EABC business delegation held discussions with ministers and senior officials in Canberra before visiting Brussels, Antwerp, Geneva, Lausanne, Istanbul, Paris and London in June 2010.

The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force on 1 December 2009, established a permanent European Council President and a High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. The European Parliament acquired greater powers, notably in relation to treaty-making, and extended its powers to approve EU legislation in areas of potential interest to Australia such as trade, agriculture, energy, fisheries, transport, immigration and justice. We maintained Australia’s engagement with the new leadership following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty and advised the Government on the implications of new institutional arrangements for Australia.

In May 2010, the department hosted a visit to Australia by three members of the European Parliament and an adviser. The delegation saw firsthand the benefits of Australia’s agriculture reforms, helping to inform debate within the EU about reforms to the EU Common Agricultural Policy. Together with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, we engaged members of the European Parliament as part of an advocacy campaign on the Australia–EU Passenger Name Record (PNR) Data Agreement—an important border security instrument which Australia has ratified but which is subject to consideration by the European Parliament.

For the first time, Australia participated in activities of the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM). We helped shape the agenda for the ASEM Summit in October 2010, at which Australia will formally take up membership.

European security

Photo - See caption below for description
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, meeting with the French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Mr Bernard Kouchner, at the NATO Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tallinn, Estonia.

Australia continued to make a major contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Australia’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Mr Ric Smith, attended the ISAF Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Brussels in December 2009. The department supported the attendance of Foreign Minister Smith and Mr Ric Smith at the ISAF Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, in April 2010.

In December 2009, representations by the department culminated in Australia becoming an Asian Partner for Co-operation of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The department supported Foreign Minister Smith’s visit to OSCE headquarters in Vienna in February 2010. With AusAID, we are contributing to OSCE projects which combat transnational crime.

Europe—bilateral relationships

The department supported Australia’s close cooperation with the United Kingdom (UK), including in the G20, in Afghanistan as part of the ISAF mission, and on climate change. We coordinated two visits to the UK by Mr Smith, as well as the then Trade Minister Crean’s visit to London in January 2010, which reinforced the strong partnership between the two countries. We also supported a range of other senior visits which helped sustain the depth and breadth of our engagement with the UK. Under the National Security Partnership, we contributed to the success of a visit to Australia by then UK Minister for International Defence and Security, Baroness Taylor.

The year 2010 marks the centenary of Australia’s diplomatic representation in the UK. The Australian High Commissioner hosted a reception at Australia House attended by Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Philip and the then UK Foreign Secretary, Mr David Miliband. Mr Smith launched a book about the history of Australian High Commissioners to the UK. Following the change of government in the UK in May 2010, we worked with the new UK Government to underline the strength of bilateral relations and promote continued close cooperation on shared interests.

We supported visits to Germany by the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, in July 2009 and the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Senator Carr, in June 2010. Mr Rudd and the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, announced closer cooperation on financial reform through the G20, climate change, counter-terrorism and in Africa and Afghanistan. We organised a senior officials’ meeting in Berlin in May 2010, consolidating the closer practical engagement between the two countries and identifying new areas for cooperation.

We strengthened engagement with France. Bilateral political-military and military-military talks were held in Paris in November 2009. We coordinated Mr Smith’s April 2010 visit to France for Anzac Day commemorations at Villers-Bretonneux and arranged his bilateral talks. With the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, we organised attendance by Mr Griffin, Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, at the January 2010 ceremonial re-burial of an unidentified World War I soldier at Fromelles, where Mr Griffin also advanced Remembrance Trail projects with his French counterpart. In May 2010, we organised a senior officials’ dialogue in Paris, identifying potential for closer engagement on a number of political, economic and development challenges, including in the Pacific, Africa and Asia and on climate change. We initiated dialogue between the department’s policy planning branch and its French counterpart. In March 2010, we supported a successful Australia–France 1.5-track strategic dialogue between the Lowy Institute and the French Foundation for Strategic Research.

Photo - See caption below for description
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, with the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Sergey Lavrov, in Moscow on 22 April 2010.
Photo: Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters / Picture Media

We contributed to renewed engagement with the Russian Federation, culminating in the visit to Moscow by Mr Smith in April 2010. Outcomes from the visit included the commitment to ratify the Australia–Russia Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and to broaden reciprocal access to education scholarship programs. We worked closely with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry to secure access to the Russian market for Australian meat producers.

In April 2010, we supported the visit of the Governor-General, Ms Quentin Bryce, to Turkey for Anzac Day commemorations and an official program of bilateral discussions that included witnessing the signature of Double Taxation and Air Services Agreements. Close coordination with the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Turkish and New Zealand governments ensured a highly successful Anzac Day commemoration on the Gallipoli peninsula. We hosted Mr Suat Kiniklioglu, Turkish Member of Parliament and Deputy Chairman for External Affairs, Justice and Development Party (AKP), on a visit to Australia. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Jenkins, visited Turkey in December 2009, strengthening parliamentary links.

The department arranged a program for Mr Smith’s visit to Spain in February 2010, including meetings with King Juan Carlos, the Prime Minister, Mr José Rodríguez Zapatero, the Foreign Minister, Mr Miguel Moratinos and other senior members of the Spanish Government. During the visit, Spain and Australia agreed to cooperate in the delivery of aid in Africa.

Australia’s joint efforts with the Netherlands in Afghanistan were a continued focus of the bilateral relationship. Relations with Switzerland continued to be underpinned by strong trade and investment links; in February 2010, Australia offered to open negotiations on a double taxation agreement (DTA).

Mr Smith visited Austria in February 2010. With Austria’s Federal Minister for Social Affairs, Labour and Consumer Protection, Mr Rudolf Hundstorfer, he signed the Second Protocol to the Agreement between Australia and the Republic of Austria on Social Security. Mr Smith announced in Vienna that Australia and Austria would renegotiate their DTA.

In March 2010, Mr Crean met Belgium’s Minister for the Economy, Mr Vincent Van Quickenborne, during the latter’s visit to Australia with a Belgian business delegation.

The department strengthened links at senior levels with the Holy See. We coordinated a visit by the then Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, to the Holy See in July 2009, where he had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI and a meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

We welcomed a visit by Ireland’s Minister of State for Trade and Commerce, Mr Billy Kelleher, for St Patrick’s Day celebrations in 2010.

Photo - See caption below for description
The then Minister for Trade, Mr Crean, with the Belgian Minister for the Economy, Mr Vincent Van Quickenborne, in Melbourne on 3 March 2010.
L–R: Mr Alain Speeckaert, CEO, Sibelco; Mr Bernard Van Milders, CEO, Flying Group & Chairman, Chamber of Commerce; Mr Luc Luwel, General Manager, Chamber of Commerce; Mr Vincent Van Quickenborne, Belgian Minister for Economy; Mr Crean, the then Minister for Trade; Mr Marc Saverys, CEO, CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge); H.E. Patrick Renault, Ambassador of Belgium to Australia; Ms Nathalie Surmont, Flanders Trade Commissioner.

The department supported Mr Smith’s October 2009 visit to Warsaw and facilitated his signature of the Australia–Poland Social Security Agreement. Through our embassy in Warsaw, the department was engaged in holocaust-related matters, including supporting guidelines for the restitution of seized assets.

The department advanced ties with the Nordic countries, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. We supported Mr Smith’s visit to Sweden in October 2009, providing the opportunity to sign a memorandum of understanding formalising Sweden’s Foundation Membership of the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. Mr Rudd and the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator Wong, visited Denmark in December 2009 to attend the 15th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Relations with Hungary continued to expand, including through our hosting of senior officials’ talks in Canberra in July 2009 and high-level visits. Mr Smith met his then counterpart, Mr Peter Balazs, in July 2009 in Budapest and President László Sólyom visited Australia in September-October 2009. Dr Tibor Navracsics, then Parliamentary Floor Leader of the Fidesz party, visited Australia in August 2009 as part of our Special Visits Program. He has since been appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the new Fidesz Government.

Mr Smith visited Slovakia in February 2010, the first visit by an Australian Foreign Minister to this central European country. The visit focused on both countries’ commitment to Uruzgan Province in Afghanistan.

The department supported the visit to Italy of Mr Rudd and Senator Wong for the G8 Summit in July 2009, during which Australia, Italy and the US launched the Global Carbon Capture and Storage Institute. A visit to Australia in July 2009 by Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms Stefania Craxi, enabled discussion of bilateral and shared interests, including the global economic crisis and Italy’s perspectives on Australia as a trade hub into Asia. We also supported the visit to Italy by Senator Carr, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, in June 2010, to promote the Australia–New Zealand bid to host the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

Personal Profile:

Photo - See caption below for description
Mr Richard Maude, First Assistant Secretary, Europe Division (far right), with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Smith, Australian Ambassador to Russia, Ms Margaret Twomey, and Assistant Advisor to Mr Smith, Mr Michael Kachel, during a visit to Moscow in April 2010 as part of the Government’s renewed engagement with Russia.

Richard Maude

Richard Maude is head of the department’s Europe Division. Europe is one of Australia’s largest trading and investment partners and is a region with which we share common approaches to many global challenges. Migration from European countries to Australia has laid the foundation for enduring people-to-people links.

With his team, Richard coordinates Australia’s bilateral relations with 51 European countries as well as with the European Union (EU), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process. Our Europe Division works closely with other government departments and agencies and with Australia’s embassies and high commissions in Europe, to advance our political, economic and security interests.

“It’s an exciting time to be working on Europe—there’s a lot happening in our relationships. We are joining the Asia-Europe Meeting and have become an Asian Partner of the OSCE. We are also working closely with European countries and the European Union in Afghanistan and on the global financial crisis in the G20.”

We supported Mr Smith’s visit to Malta in July 2009, which reflected the longstanding people-to-people links that underpin the relationship between our two countries.

Australia maintained its strong support for the settlement negotiations in Cyprus, including through the work of Australia’s Special Representative for Cyprus, Ambassador David Ritchie, and the ongoing provision of police personnel to the United Nations Force in Cyprus. In July 2009, Mr Smith met the United Nations Good Offices Mission to reaffirm the importance Australia attaches to a resolution of the dispute. Ambassador Ritchie undertook discussions with Turkish and Greek Cypriot representatives on the island in November 2009, followed by community consultations in Australia.

The visits in October 2009 of Prime Minister Mr Nikola Gruevski of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and President Mr Georgi Parvanov of Bulgaria were the first such visits from either country, marking a new phase in our bilateral relations. During his visit, Mr Gruevski and Mr Rudd signed a Social Security Agreement.

With the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, we continued efforts to facilitate the repatriation of Indigenous remains. We succeeded in arranging the return of remains from institutions in the UK, Austria and the Netherlands.

TABLE 5. AUSTRALIA’S TRADE IN GOODS AND SERVICES WITH EUROPE (a)

 
Exports
Exports
Imports(b)
Imports(b)
Goods and services
2008
$m
2009
$m
Trend growth 2004–2009
%
2008
$m
2009
$m
Trend growth 2004–2009
%
United Kingdom
13,741
13,250
8.7
14,935
11,095
5.2
Germany
3,085
2,643
5.3
12,667
11,719
5.6
Italy
2,024
1,344
–2.1
6,246
5,697
4.3
France (b)
2,491
1,907
8.1
5,884
4,943
0.3
Netherlands
4,066
2,482
6.8
2,659
2,567
7.6
Total European
Union 27
(b)
32,278
25,992
6.0
59,707
51,219
5.4
Russian Federation
1,219
694
28.7
687
437
40.8
Other Europe
3,383
2,327
12.7
6,328
6,410
12.7
Total Europe(b)
36,880
29,013
6.9
66,722
58,066
6.2

(a) Goods data on a recorded trade basis, services data on a balance of payments basis.
(b) Imports total excludes imports of ABS confidential items (mainly aircraft) from September 2008 onwards.
Based on DFAT STARS database and ABS catalogue 5368.0.55.004.

Outlook

The department will continue to advance Australia’s bilateral relations with European countries and work to enhance trade and investment ties. We will pursue closer strategic engagement with France and Germany and further strengthen our deep ties with the United Kingdom under its coalition government. We will build on progress made in our relations with Russia and Turkey, both bilaterally and in forums such as the G20. We will also broaden ties with other non-EU member countries, drawing on people-to-people links and trade and investment opportunities.

We will lead a whole-of-government review of the Australia–EU Partnership Framework, to be relaunched at Australia–EU Ministerial Consultations in 2011, while pursuing implementation of the current Framework. We will maintain Australia’s profile and access with the new post-Lisbon Treaty leadership of the EU. We will increase our engagement with the European Parliament. We will continue our advocacy for EU ratification of the 2008 Australia–EU PNR Data Agreement.

We will continue to assess developments in the EU’s trade policies, promote Australia’s trade interests and work closely with the EU on efforts to conclude the Doha Round. We will work with European members of the G20 to ensure the ongoing effectiveness of responses to the global economic crisis and the full implementation of commitments made by G20 leaders. We will continue to strengthen our security cooperation with Europe by advancing our relations with NATO, notably in the context of our troop deployment to Afghanistan. We will also consolidate our participation and engagement as an Asian Partner for Co-operation with the OSCE and as a new member of ASEM.

Next page: 1.1.5 South and West Asia, Middle East and Africa
Previous page: 1.1.3 Americas

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade