European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met virtually on 26 November. They discussed enhanced cooperation in international fora to further promote shared interests and reconfirmed their resolve to work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and take effective measures to protect health and build more resilient economies. The meeting covered an array of topics including trade, security and defence, the Asia Pacific, digital transformation and climate action. Read more.
The European Council approved the EU’s seven-year budget and the €750 billion #NextGenerationEU recovery fund to build a green, digital and resilient future. Coinciding with the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement, the EU leaders also endorsed the European Commission’s 2030 Climate Target Plan to increase emission cuts by at least 55%, up from the previous 40% target. The plan sets out concrete actions to achieve the enhanced target, including an emissions trading system. Access the main results of the European Council (10-11 December) here.
In the lead-up to the Climate Ambition Summit co-convened by the United Nations, France and the United Kingdom on 12 December, the EU called for stronger global action to address climate change.
The 3rd annual joint committee held on 19 October highlighted ongoing cooperation and action in a number of areas including the COVID-19 global response, multilateralism, trade, security, connectivity, climate action and the Pacific. Read more.
Twenty European Ambassadors and High Commissioners to Australia travelled to South Australia from 20-23 October. The largest delegation of EU Heads of Mission (HoMs) to travel interstate visited Adelaide and Kangaroo Island, reactivating face-to-face diplomacy in a number of areas including trade, energy, space, defence, infrastructure, cyber-crime, tourism and culture. The visit included high-level political briefings and events with State Premier Steven Marshall and Governor Hieu Van Le.
You can listen to ABC Radio National’s Big Ideas podcast to hear European Ambassadors reflect on the state of global affairs and international cooperation. Recorded during the HoMs mission to South Australia in October, the panel discussion features EU Ambassador Michael Pulch, together with Ambassadors Marion Derckx (Netherlands), Thomas Fitschen (Germany), Jurij Rifelj (Slovenia), Francesca Tardioli (Italy) in conversation with Professor Jacqueline Lo, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), University of Adelaide.
European HoMs made a trip en-masse to Sydney in mid-November. The 18-strong delegation met with New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Deputy Premier and Trade Minister John Barilaro who voiced a keen interest to boost international and economic ties with Europe. The group met the with NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant and Opposition Leader Jodi McKay. They were also hosted for lunch by Governor Margaret Beazley at Government House.
The EU Delegation to Australia has worked in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) since 2015. This year the Delegation sponsored the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture: Racial Equality in the Time of COVID-19 and the #HumanRightsHeroes 2020 campaign. Opening the virtual lecture on 30 October, EU Ambassador to Australia Michael Pulch said “Our democratic systems will not tolerate racial discrimination in any form, in a pandemic or any time. During this crisis we can test how strongly we hold to these values.” More than 250 people tuned in to hear leading Australian human rights advocates in the panel discussion moderated by Nyadol Nyuon, winner of the 2018 ‘Racism. It stops with me.' Award.
The EU has a new powerful tool that will allow it to take targeted restrictive measures against serious human rights violations and abuses, for example torture, slavery, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and detentions. Restrictive measures include travel bans for individuals and the freezing of funds of individuals and entities. In addition, persons and entities in the EU will be forbidden from making funds available to those who have been listed. Read more.
The EU works hand-in-hand with the UN to promote peace, human rights, the rule of law, sustainable development, climate action and more. UN Day was celebrated globally on 24 October. The year 2020 marks a special anniversary for the United Nations: 75 years from the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco. Read more.
The EU’s diplomatic service (EEAS) marked a special milestone on 1 December - ten years since its establishment. Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and European Commission Vice-President (in charge of coordinating the external action of the EU), used the anniversary to reflect upon the EEAS’ achievements over the past decade and its future focus his blog.
A team of EU trade negotiators met their Australian counterparts virtually for the 9th round of negotiations towards a comprehensive European Union-Australia Free Trade Agreement (EU-AUS FTA). Working to European and Australian time zones, the latest round took place over two weeks from 30 November to 11 December. Around 60 EU negotiators took part in 20 different groups, covering most areas of the future agreement. The EU's chief negotiator Helena König says, once finalised, the agreement will further boost EU-Australia relations. "It is very important to come up with something that actually improves the situation from where we are now, making it easier to trade, making it easier to provide services or to invest. An agreement that is good for our stakeholders and an agreement that cares about the environment and labour rights.” See more in Helena’s video message.
The EU’s system of identifying food products based on origin - Geographical Indications (GIs) - is a driver of rural development throughout Europe. Australia is considering extending the protection of European food and spirit product names to its own market as part of the EU-AUS FTA. The European Union Centre at RMIT University hosted a webinar on 16 November looking at the potential benefits of a GI system to Australian producers and consumers. Re-visit the webinar here.
The Council of the European Union has given a green light to the EU-China GI agreement. This will see 100 European agri-food GIs legally protected in China and 100 Chinese GIs protected in the EU. Read more.
Australia hosted a virtual meeting of 22 WTO ministers on 27 October to drive negotiations of global rules on fisheries subsidies and to discuss the role of the WTO in contributing to the COVID-19 global economic recovery. Australia’s Trade Minister Simon Birmingham met with the European Commission’s newly appointed Trade Commissioner/ Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis ahead of the WTO meeting.
Three days, nine sessions, 47 speakers, 600 participants from 50 countries. European Research Days 2020, organised by EURAXESS Australia & New Zealand together with the EU Delegations to Australia and New Zealand, was an overwhelming success. The inaugural event provided the research community in Australia and New Zealand with information and support for scientific and educational exchange and collaboration with Europe. The program featured nine targeted sessions and an international cast of high-level experts and speakers. Revisit the sessions online.
The Trade and Investment in Services Associates (TIISA) is offering a €5000 award for academic papers on the topic of international trade and investment, with relevance to economic integration in services, including the EU. The call is open to PhD and PhD-equivalent students, young professionals and early-career researchers. Deadline for submission in 26 February. For more information contact email@example.com
There is “tremendous scope for cooperation” between Europe and Australia in the area of critical raw materials, says EU Ambassador Michael Pulch. “Lithium, graphite, vanadium, cobalt, manganese, magnesium, zinc, nickel, helium, hydrogen rare earths. There are many European industries that rely on these materials. Automotive, ICT, aerospace, communications, medical technology just to name a few.” Ambassador Pulch made the comments during his virtual address to the New World Metals conference in Perth, Western Australia, on 9 December. He invited Australian companies to join the new European Raw Materials Alliance.
European Union – Australian Climate Business Network
This new network aims to provide the Australian business community with news and info and events covering EU climate, sustainability and trade policy developments. You can find more information on the website via the socials Twitter and LinkedIn and the newsletter.
CULTURE & CANBERRA
Can you take a selfie from space? Yes, you can! This is what the EU Delegation's Satellite Selfie display looks like photographed from 770 km above Earth by a satellite travelling an astonishing 26,850 kms per hour. Read more.
European Language Awards
The EU Delegation partners with schools and universities around Australia to promote the learning of European languages. In 2020 , more than 20 high school students received a European Language Award and $200 Dymocks voucher for excelling in their studies. Students like 15 year-old Anastasia Rigopoulos who just loves Greek culture! “Everything about it is absolutely amazing: language, music, dancing, food, traditions and of course the history!” Read more in The Greek City Times article.
Snap! The #LiterallyEurope photo competition provided a fun way to explore European culture from home in the lead-up to the European Day of Languages on 26 September. There were 100+ entries in 10+ European languages to the social media competition that required participants to capture their favourite European sayings/idioms in a photo or picture. The competition was organised by the European Union Institutes of Culture in Australia. EUNIC is a cultural network supported by Creative Europe, which supports cultural diplomacy and relations around the world. You can find the winning entries on the @euinaus Instagram page.
Diplomacy is buzzing around the nation’s capital
There has been an international buzz...zzz around Canberra. Italian Ambassador to Australia Francesca Tardioli had been on the lookout for a swarm to complete her bee-friendly garden. Deputy Head of the EU Delegation Fabio Spadi became an unexpected bee-nefactor after he discovered a swarm at his house. With a little help from his friend Cormac Farrell, head beekeeper at the Australian Parliament, the bees were safely boxed up into a ‘compact nucleus hive’ and sent over to the Ambassador’s residence only a few suburbs away. But it wasn’t a quick trip for the bees. The transfer took approximately two weeks, enough time for the bees to settle into their semi-permanent home and have their health monitored by Cormac. We are happy to report the bees' new posting has been a sweet success!
Sveiki! The EU Delegation warmly welcomes two new faces: Aistė and Ramunė. They are sharing the Delegation’s office space in Yarralumla as they prepare to open a new Lithuanian embassy in Canberra next year. Their arrival means there are now 25 out of 27 EU Member States with diplomatic representations in Australia.