Delegation of the European Union to Australia

Speech on the occasion of Europe Day

10/05/2018 - 02:50
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On the occasion of Europe Day, 9 May 2018, EU Ambassador HE Dr Michael Pulch delivered a speech at the reception held at The Boathouse in Canberra to mark the day.

Dear Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues and friends

Dear Minister Rattenbury, and Head of Protocol Ms Lyndal Sachs,

Pleased to welcome you to this year's 9 May celebration in the famous Boat House. Quite symbolic as we want to set sails this year for stronger EU–Australia relations.  I would like to make three points in my remarks today: On our bilateral relations, on the broader EU perspective and on our theme for today Galileo.

Let me start with our bilateral relationship: 2018 will be a special year in the history of EU-Australia relations – a game changer.

We are launching initiatives which will fundamentally up-grade the ties between the European Union and Australia across the board.

First, we will ratify the EU-Australia Framework Agreement. This agreement provides a legal platform to cooperate closer on foreign and security policy, science and technology, climate change and energy, education and culture.  A meeting of its Joint Committee should already happen this year.

Another major step forward is the forthcoming launch of the Free Trade negotiations. We both have to gain a lot from this undertaking.  After all: The EU is Australia's second most important trading partner, her largest market for trade in services and a key investor in Australia. Even following the departure of the UK the fundamentals will remain - EU continues to offer access to the second largest consumer market in the world.

Not to forget: The first meeting of the EU-Australia Leadership Forum in Europe will be an excellent opportunity to have senior and young emerging leaders debate how to promote ties and to address jointly the many challenges that confront us. Foremost, to preserve the global framework based on rules, agreement and international law that protect the interest of all parties in an equal manner. This laid the basis for an unprecedented rise of global prosperity, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and mitigating the risks of war and conflicts.

Australia and the EU have every interest in standing together in defense of these achievements.

This brings me to my second point: The EU's trajectory in recent months. Brexit certainly has shaken the EU institutions out of a slumber and energized the Union. As a result we have seen: The creation of a new European defense identity, a push to enhance joint operations and to set up or reinforce European structures on law enforcement, counter-terrorism, border control and migration.

This has an impact on relations here. For instance: Australia has set up a desk at Europol. We are holding a bilateral security dialogue (next one in 10 days) and experts get together now on migration and consular matters.

But, arguably, the most impressive step forward is the EU's pro-active trade policy in recent months. The largest bilateral FTA ever concluded will become operational when the EU and Japan sign and start implementing their agreement in July. From Canada and Mexico to Asia-Pacific Singapore, Vietnam we have finalized a whole range of agreements to form a ring of friends in support of an open trading system. Australia and New Zealand will be the first negotiations under a new European fast track approach.

My last point is on this year's reception theme. You have all seen the posters when entering and we will show short videos on European space projects. Don't miss them. A nice touch on the budget adopted great to now have the Australian Space Agency as a partner.

Galileo and Copernicus two of our flagship projects already provide tangible benefits to Australian citizens. If you have a new smart phone or drive a new European car:  They will use Galileo-enabled chipsets for more accurate positioning and navigation. The Galileo Search and Rescue Service is Europe's contribution to an international emergency system to help locate and rescue people in distress. Galileo reduces the picking up of emergency signals from up to 3 hours to just 10 minutes. This faster response time will save lives, also in Australia.

Copernicus is a satellite based earth observation system that provides geo-data free of charge. This data is processed here in Australia for natural disaster response and prevention, rescue operations, water management and agricultural purposes. In March last year Australia activated the Copernicus Emergency Management System for the mapping of floods and storm-surge by Cyclone Debbie to target emergency responses in Queensland and New South Wales.

We want to introduce these programs to a greater audience here, as we are about to step up space cooperation across the board with Australia. We are currently setting up large space-related research projects. The economic and business opportunities using space technology are ever expanding.

For those who are interested there are more information brochures available for you at the entrance.

For all of us here there is plenty of food and drinks now available. In that context I would like to warmly thank my European colleagues. They have opened their cellars to allow you to taste some of their finest beverages. The full selection is displayed at the bar. My advice is: Don't miss this opportunity to sample a glass (or two) of local specialties from across Europe.

All of this will be part of Europe celebrations in May in Canberra and beyond: If you look at the carillon it will shine in the European colours of blue and yellow from tonight onward. My ambassador colleagues and I will visit Melbourne this week for meetings with the Victoria government. On Sunday Portugal and the EU Delegation will join the National Archives to showcase Eurovision, held in Lisbon and the following week we are organizing a fantastic European and local Tasmanian food exhibition on geographical indications in Hobart.

On this happy note a wish you all a pleasant Europe day 2018!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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