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!

No comments: