Monday, 23 June 2008

The Treaty of Lisbon

I have taken some time to react to voters’ rejection in Ireland of the new Lisbon Treaty for the simple reason that it was bad and disappointing news and, in these circumstances, it is better not to give an instantaneous reaction.

It is bad news first, because it shows that the man in the street in Ireland does not feel satisfied with Europe, and disappointing, because of the doubt cast on what I consider is a clear and much needed improvement for the European Union.

Of course we respect the vote of the electors and we will try to understand why they expressed this opinion.

We don’t know for sure the specific reasons for the rejection of the referendum and it will be up to Irish Prime Minister Cowen to analyse them and to draw conclusions with the other European Heads of State and Government. Nevertheless I am convinced that the vast majority of the Irish electors are not against the EU per se and that we should continue to share the solidarity that has always existed between Member States and EU.

But we also have to consider that 19 member states have already ratified the text and that the process is continuing in those Member States where it has still not been completed.

It is not the first crisis that the European Union has experienced and in all cases up to now, EU solidarity has always won the day and European integration has always been reinforced. I am convinced that this will be the case again and that pretty soon we will share the improvement of what is encapsulated in the Lisbon treaty. For me this means:

  • A more democratic and transparent Europe

  • A more efficient Europe

  • A Europe of rights and values, freedom and security, and

  • Europe as an actor on the global stage

For more information on the Treaty of Lisbon, visit

Bruno Julien

    Tuesday, 27 May 2008

    Strengthening the EU-Australia relationship

    I have been silent for some weeks but this is not bad news. It means that there were so many good developments in the EU/Australian relationship that I had not much time to write my impressions.

    Just to mention a few important things:

    The landmark early visit of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to Brussels led to the joint decision with President Barroso to extend and deepen our relations.

    Consequently we are now working hard on a new partnership agreement that will translate the political will into a number of practical arrangements and these will hopefully be agreed early in the second quarter of 2008.

    A new aviation agreement was signed on 30 April 2008 and we are currently looking at the possibility of negotiating a much broader and comprehensive agreement that will cover security, safety, traffic rights and so on.

    After long negotiations we reached an agreement with Australia on the transfer of personal data of air passengers to ensure a better level of security.

    We have been actively engaged in discussion with Australia on visa reciprocity issues to ensure the equal treatment of our 27 member states citizens and I hope that those discussions will pretty soon be conclusive.

    There are a number of other matters that we are examining ranging from climate change, education, the Doha round and much more.

    Last not least, we have recently celebrated Europe Day at the National Gallery of Australia around the Turner to Monet exhibition.

    I am very happy because the new spirit seems to be transpiring everywhere. Just to cite an example, the recently formed NSW - EU parliamentary friendship group organised last week a gala dinner at the NSW parliament for 200 guests where I had once again the privilege to speak about the deepening of our relations with Australia.

    In a nutshell, there has been a lot of work but ever so rewarding!

    Thursday, 14 February 2008

    New Year

    The summer holidays are ending, but the Christmas/New Year break has been over for several weeks in Europe and we are back to business with the most important issue for our future, the adoption of the new Lisbon Treaty that will allow us to make a major step towards our further integration. In order to be ratified the Treaty must be ratified by all the Member States without exception. This will be an important process in 2008 that we will closely follow. Already five Member States have ratified Hungary, Slovenia. Romania, Malta and France.

    In Australia what is important to us is to establish a good, solid working relationship with the new Government. This has already started with the visit of Trade Minister Simon Crean to Brussels in January and a number of other important Australian ministerial visits already scheduled (Minister Carr and others…). The 23 EU member states represented in Australia will actively cooperate to reach a better understanding and cooperation with Australia and will strive to increase the visibility of the European Union in Australia. The recent launch of the EU balloon, the Windows on Europe Film Festival and Europe Street in the National Multicultural Festival are but some symbolic signs of our existence. More importantly, we want to emphasise the relevance and some of the important benefits that the EU holds for Australia.

    I am here not only to represent the EU with the other Member States missions but also to follow the evolution of Australian policy. The new session of the Parliament is one important event this week and we will follow it with great interest, in particular the process of reconciliation. Even if it is an internal Australian matter, it is important for us to follow since it will certainly have a very long term impact on the cohesion of this already multicultural country. Roots are always important and should be well looked after since they are essential for the tree to develop harmoniously. We in Europe have also been through a reconciliation process since the very origins of the EU and one of the main achievements of the European construction is to have reconciled former bitter enemies.

    Bruno Julien

    Thursday, 10 January 2008

    EU balloon launched in Australia

    23 of the 27 EU Member States have Embassies or High Commissions in Australia. I was proud to have them with me yesterday when we officially launched the EU hot air balloon, which will fly for the next four years over Canberra and the region. This was a festive event, the coronation of an active year for us and the celebration of a solid relationship between the EU and Australia that will continue to grow in 2008 and beyond.

    The new Treaty of Lisbon was signed by the EU Member States on 13 December. Hungary was the first Member State to ratify the new Lisbon Treaty this week opening the way toward the final ratification by all the Member States by the end of 2008 and the effective application of the new Treaty in 2009. This will boost the efficiency of the European Union and it is a stepping stone towards further political integration to the benefit of the EU, as well as to the EU’s relations with our close partners and allies, Australia being among them. This year finishes for us with a note of optimism and progress and the balloon flying over our heads in Canberra almost every day certainly reinforces this feeling.

    Written 20 December 2007

    Tuesday, 18 December 2007

    Youth Interfaith Forum - Perth

    I recently returned from Perth where we co-organised a Regional Youth Interfaith Forum with DFAT. These two days spent with 60 young people from many different countries in the region and across Europe and from various religious denominations was very refreshing.

    I keep two moving images in my heart - a common lecture of the bible by a young Catholic and a Jew, and the kisses and friendship testimonies of the participants when they were leaving after only two days spent together.

    The strong desire of these young people to talk together, to exchange and share common values of peace, tolerance and understanding is an illustration that religious beliefs are not, and should not be, a factor of division in today’s world. In the EU as well as in Australia we believe in respect and tolerance. Our institutions guarantee the fundamental freedoms, so we must share those invaluable benefits with our neighbours.

    This was our goal during the two days of the Interfaith Forum and the main result from the gathering has been to initiate an informal friendship network that I hope will last for a long time, especially since it is composed of the young people who are our future.