Portrait of European Union Ambassador to Australia Michael Pulch by Alex Ellinghausen - The Sydney Morning Herald.
Europe-Australia alliance growing from strength to strength
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been busy engaging European leaders on a range of topics: trade, China, cyber, science, education and the global COVID-19 inquiry. Since the beginning of April, the prime minister has had virtual meetings with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. More in The Australian (behind paywall).
EU puts forward coronavirus evaluation
The European Union-Australia partnership proved a "winning formula" to secure overwhelming international support for the EU-led motion for a comprehensive, independent and impartial coronavirus inquiry which passed the World Health Assembly in May, EU Ambassador to Australia Michael Pulch tells The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age newspapers. More.
The coronavirus pandemic and a number of major bilateral and multilateral challenges show clearly the EU-China partnership is crucial, be it in terms of trade, climate, technology, and the defence of multilateralism, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said following the EU-China Summit on 22 June. More.
Trade talks take place online
A team of EU trade negotiators met their Australian counterparts virtually for the latest round of negotiations towards the European Union-Australia Free Trade Agreement (EU-AUS FTA). Since the trade negotiations kicked off in July 2018, negotiators have met face-to-face in both Brussels and Canberra to advance the comprehensive trade agreement. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, the seventh round took place online for the very first time from 4-15 May. Discussions took place over two weeks instead of one to accommodate the European time zone. The EU's chief negotiator Helena König said continuity and momentum is vital. More.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said “not even 16,000 KM of social distance from Europe can dampen a shared ambition to reach a deal.” Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra on 17 June, Minister Birmingham said “the EU is a massive, high-income market of almost 450 million people and, as a bloc, it’s already Australia’s third largest trading partner and our third largest source of foreign investment. There’s so much potential for growth in areas like agriculture, e-commerce, and investment.” Read the full address.
As part of its post-coronavirus recovery strategy, the European Commission has launched a major review of the EU's trade and investment policy, including an online public consultation process which closes on 15 September. More.
Agri-food and drink products with Geographical Indication (GI) certification were worth €75 billion in 2017, according to a new study which also found the sales value of GI products are, on average, double that for similar products without GI status. More.
Trade affairs policy assistant
Do you have a career-related interest in trade, investment and economics? Want to be involved in the work towards the ambitious EU-AUS FTA? Would you like to be part of the EU’s diplomatic mission in Canberra? This could be the opportunity for you! We are looking for a Trade Affairs Policy Assistant to join the team. Applications close 2 July! More.
Online diplomacy becomes the new abnormal
Pleas to put microphones on mute, abrupt endings to meetings as internet connections drop out, and unexpected interruptions from household members - or pets - have become commonplace for people pushed out of offices amid the coronavirus pandemic. But they may not be the most conducive conditions for the sensitive work of diplomats. German Ambassador to Australia Thomas Fitschen and the EU Delegation’s Deputy Head of Mission Fabio Spadi share their experiences of digital diplomacy with Australian Associated Press. More.
EU opens accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia
The European Council has agreed to open accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Following the decision, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the decision “marks the start of the journey to a bigger and stronger European Union.” More.
Germany’s 2020 European Council Presidency
On 1 July, Germany will assume the presidency of the European Council. During the six-month presidency, Germany will chair Council meetings and progress EU legislation with a focus on steering Europe through the COVID-19 recovery phase. The European Council defines the EU's overall political direction and priorities.
The European Commission has launched its major economic coronavirus recovery plan to build a green, digital and resilient future. Powered by a reinforced EU budget and €750 billion recovery fund, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said “the European Green Deal and digitalisation will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment. This is Europe's moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer.” More.
Taking you home
The EU Delegation to Australia worked with EU Member States and Schengen-zone countries to help their citizens get home. By the end of May, more than 25,000 Europeans had departed Australia. More in The Australian Financial Review.
The European Commission has launched an interactive on-line tool that provides real-time information on borders, transport and tourism services in the EU Member States. Available in 23 EU languages, the tool provides information on public health and safety measures including physical distancing and facemasks as well as practical information regarding the opening of beaches, cafés and restaurants. More.
Global goal: Unite for our future
Australia committed $352 million towards the EU-led pledging marathon in May which saw countries, organisations, philanthropists and celebrities raise €7.4 billion towards coronavirus vaccine research, diagnostics and treatments. More. The European Commission pledged an additional €300 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, to help immunize 300 million children and finance vaccine stockpiles to shield against outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Global citizen: The concert
In a bid to mobilise further funding for vaccines, the European Commission will co-host a global pledging summit and concert on Saturday 27 June featuring performances by Shakira, Coldplay, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber and others. More.
Data sharing platform
An unprecedented number of scientific efforts are taking place worldwide to combat COVID-19. One of the biggest challenges is to share data and findings in a coordinated way to better understand the disease and develop vaccines. The European Commission, together with several partners, launched an open sharing data portal to accelerate these critical research efforts. More in Tech Crunch.
Artificial Intelligence global partnership
The EU, Australia and 11 other nations have formed the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI) to foster responsible AI development and innovation in areas including policing and surveillance. The GPAI Secretariat will be based at the OECD. More.
Clean energy, climate action & the circular economy
Cooperation and investment in technologies for renewable energy will be the focus of the EU-Australia High-Level Climate Change Dialogue on 26 June. The online discussion includes senior officials from the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment and the Commission’s Directorate-General for the Environment. The Commission is currently exploring how hydrogen can help reduce the EU economy’s carbon emissions in a cost-effective way. Part of the European Green Deal, the Clean Energy: EU Hydrogen Strategy will help Europe reach its goal to be climate neutral by 2050.
Meanwhile, the circular economy and biodiversity conservation were among topics discussed at the EU-Australia High Level Environment Dialogue on 4 June. The European Commission recently adopted two new strategies that bring together nature, farmers, business and consumers to work together towards a competitively sustainable future.
Research perspective from ‘Down Under’
Meet neuroscientist Prof Seth Grant and sign language linguist Dr Adam Schembri, two Australian researchers who receive European Research Council (ERC) grants to undertake projects in Europe. Prof Grant directs world-leading research at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Adam Schembri is an Associate Professor in Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. More.
Did you know? The ERC has signed Implementing Arrangements with the Australian Research Council and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council to provide even more opportunities for top Australian researchers to carry out projects in Europe.
Euraxess Australia and New Zealand
EURAXESS Worldwide supports researchers to connect with Europe. The new Australia and New Zealand hub keeps researchers informed about career opportunities, international collaboration and networking. It promotes EU funded mobility opportunities, such as those linked to the ERC and Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions. More information on the website, via the Flashnote newsletter and social media: facebook @euraxess.aus.nz and LinkedIn.
Did you know the EU provides living and travel allowances for Australians to study in Europe? With world-class universities, research centres and higher education institutions, Europe really is the place to be! Discover more about the higher education opportunities on offer in the Study in Europe digital guide, prepared by the @EUinAus team.
Europe Day 2020
The 9th of May was celebrated online, and in the skies, with an array of activities organised by EU Institutions and EU Delegations around the world, including here in Australia. This year also marked the 70th anniversary of the Schuman Declaration, the founding moment of today's EU.
Cities around the world light up the night sky in EU colours
From Canberra, to New York, Dubai and Asunción in Paraguay - monuments around the world shone bright in the EU colours of blue and gold to mark Europe Day 2020. More.
European Consuls celebrate solidarity
Sydney-based Consuls representing 18 EU Member States also came together to mark Europe Day 2020 online. "As representatives of the EU Member States, it's important for us to celebrate Europe Day regardless and shine a spotlight on the European Union and what it stands for. That’s why we have come together to share a virtual message of solidarity in our own languages,” Consul-General of Ireland Owen Feeney said. More.
Ode to Joy
For many years, the Dooring Street Quartet performed at the Europe Day event in Canberra. Musicians Imogen Thompson and Helena Popovic couldn’t imagine not taking part in the online celebrations of 2020. The Canberra-based musicians got together to perform a special rendition of the European Union anthem Ode to Joy. More.
Together as One
Nine artists from across Europe perform a melody-medley of Beethoven's 9th Symphony in different genres in nine minutes. Watch the teaser put together by our colleagues at the Delegation of the EU to the International Organisations in Vienna here.
Europeana: Europe’s digital cultural collection
Want to discover more about Europe’s rich diversity of art, culture and nature? The Europeana platform has a vast digital collection of art artefacts, music, sound files, images of cultural heritage buildings and sites, as well as a budding collection of 3D images to inspire you to discover cultural gems across Europe. More.
Taste of languages
Do you like languages? Are you a foodie too? Why don't you combine the two and take part in the Taste of Languages competition. Students from pre-school to Year 12 in the Canberra area are invited to make a video of themselves making their favourite dish using an European language. The competition closes 1 September. More.