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Australia, New Zealand and Pacific Island countries have sent the European Union a very clear message on the need for it to remain involved in the region.
The former head of the World Trade Organisation and former EU trade commissioner, Pascal Lamy, says this is the feedback he received during a two-week trip to the region that focused on the EU's future in this part of the world.
"There is a case for the EU remaining engaged," Mr Lamy told the Lowy Institute during a speech in Sydney.
"This is what the Pacific countries wish. This is what New Zealand wishes. This is what Australia wishes."
The EU’s partnership with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries – the so-called ‘Cotonou Agreement’ - expires in 2020.
Mr Lamy will report back to the European Union on what should be included in the new partnership, in particular when it comes to relations with the Pacific.
The former WTO boss described as "no-brainers" the issues of concern to Australia, New Zealand and the EU in the Pacific region.
"What I got from our discussions, both with the Kiwis and here is that our world view of what the priorities on Pacific interaction are fairly similar," he said.
These issues include environmental resilience, regional security, oceans, renewable energy, health and education.
He also said there were existing development assistance relations between the EU and Australia that provide the blueprint for future cooperation.
"We even run some EU programs with Australia. We also run some African programs with Australian money," Mr Lamy said in reference to vocational training initiatives in Fiji, education programmes in Laos and food support projects in South Sudan
Mr Lamy said the EU had a significant role to play in this region despite the tyranny of distance.
"I believe the EU has a stake in this world." he said. "It's much more than an internal market or a research common program or a common agricultural policy or a relatively sophisticated system of switching money from rich regions to poor regions.
"The EU, given its size, given its tradition, given its history, has, in my view, a legitimate ambition to influence the course of this planet. And the course of this planet is partly going to be happening in the 20 years to come in the Pacific."
Negotiations on a successor to the Cotonou agreement will commence soon and present an opportunity to reflect a changing world and new landmark international agreements, such as the Sustainable Development Goals.