Business leads mission to Europe

21 December 2017

European Australian Business Council

A private sector-led initiative, the European Australian Business Council works closely with the Australian Government, the EU Institutions and Member States' governments to profile and promote Europe’s relationship with Australia. In particular, the EABC has been at the forefront in advocating for an ambitious free trade agreement to be established between Australia and the European Union.

For European companies, Australia is an increasingly important market as a strongly- performing and open economy strategically located in the Asia-Pacific region; whilst Australian investment in Europe continues to grow strongly in areas such as financial services, infrastructure, resources, energy, transport, logistics, healthcare and other services.

The EABC’s annual programme includes a delegation of Australian business leaders to meet with the European institutions in Brussels, and visit two to three capitals in Europe. These visits are strongly supported by the Australian Government as an effective platform for promoting stronger trade and investment linkages, and effective public- private sector collaboration.

“The aim of these missions is to meet with European leaders to discuss developments shaping the business environment in Europe, while highlighting the relevance of Australia as a business partner and advocating for an ambitious and expedited Australia-EU free trade agreement,” explains EABC CEO Jason Collins.

In June 2017, the EABC visited Brussels, Amsterdam, The Hague, Dublin and London. A highlight of the visit was a meeting with members of the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament to discuss the opportunities for forging an ambitious, comprehensive economic partnership agreement between the EU and Australia. The session in Parliament was led from
the European side by Daniel Caspary MEP, and from the Australian side by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, together with business representatives led by EABC Chairman Nick Greiner, Deputy Chairs Simon Crean and Carla Zampatti.

The nine-day mission also engaged with European leaders and institutions, senior Ministers in The Netherlands and Ireland, including new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Central Bank Governors and European peak business organisations. Discussions focused on the rapidly developing economic relationship between Australia and Europe, including ways to enhance co-operation in areas such as bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations, innovation, climate change, energy, healthcare and security policy. European leaders were unreservedly supportive for the EU-Australia FTA as a platform for enhanced business ties, and also as a mechanism for broadening and deepening co-operation on a range of issues where shared values underpin a common perspective on the major global issues of the day.

“The EABC missions offer a unique opportunity to engage with European Ministers, senior officials and business organisations, to get a real understanding of public policy and economic developments in Europe, and see where business opportunities lie. The format, structure and level of access of these missions make them highly valuable for Australian business leaders who wish to gain insights into what is going on in Europe,” describes EABC Chair Nick Greiner.

EABC Deputy Chair Carla Zampatti says: “Australia has benefited enormously from Europe, having seen many thousands of migrants arrive from all over Europe to help build Australia’s modern economy and dynamic multicultural society. An objective of our missions is to help pave the way for new generations of young entrepreneurs, innovators, designers to seize business opportunities together.” In November, the Council hosted a delegation of the European Parliament’s INTA Committee
visiting Australia, and will welcome the European

Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, who is expected to visit Australia in 2018 to officially launch the FTA negotiations. Simon Crean, EABC Deputy Chair and former Trade Minister, welcomed the opportunity these visits provide to further dialogue with EU Institutions, saying it shows “strong appetite from the EU to get a good deal done.”

“A key priority for the upcoming FTA will be to achieve a mutually beneficial settlement of sensitive areas through market access and tariff reduction deals, but also to address technical and regulatory issues, and obstacles to services and digital economy growth,” adds EABC CEO Jason Collins. “Although signing a FTA would not automatically solve all trade and investment issues between Europe and Australia, the role of such an agreement should be to create a platform to further deepen collaboration on shared regulatory, economic and societal challenges.”

In 2018, the EABC will visit France (Paris, Strasbourg), Spain (Madrid) and Portugal (Lisbon), countries with which Australia enjoys strong political, industrial and technological relations.

For more information on the EABC and its missions to Europe, please contact tgoulain@eabc.com.au or call 02 8272 0600.

Delegates seated around a very large oval table
EABC delegates exchange with the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee — European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium
Last Updated: 21 December 2017