A team of EU negotiators will meet their Australian counterparts in Canberra, 25-29 March, for the 3rd round of discussions towards an ambitious and comprehensive EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The previous round of negotiations,19-23 November, "showed a shared commitment to negotiate an ambitious and comprehensive agreement," the DG Trade report reads. The FTA, including the EU's Geographical Indications system, was the focus of EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan's four-day visit to Australia in February (read about it in the NEWS section below). The EU is Australia's second largest trading partner and the FTA could see trade in goods increase by 37% and services by 8%, according to a European Commission impact assessment. The fourth round of negotiations will take place in July. More info on the FTA website.
Hundreds of millions of EU citizens will vote for the next European Parliament from 23-26 May. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are elected for five years. EU citizens who live outside Europe, including in Australia, can register to vote. More information on how to vote from abroad here.
The European Union Visitors Program (EUVP) enables young, current or emerging leaders in government, politics, the media and other key fields to see first-hand how the EU’s institutions work. The week-long learning programme includes visits to the EU Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. Applications for the 2020 intake close 5 April. More info here.
What is the European Union anthem? What is the population of Europe? What is Europe's longest river? Test your knowledge at the EU Trivia night on, 6-9:30 PM on Thursday 2 May in Canberra. Based on the success of the 2018 event, the EU Delegation Quiz Masters are busy preparing another fun-filled evening at the Croatian Deakin Sports Club. Save the date and start getting your team of ten together. Tickets cost $15 and include food and glass of wine. Proceeds go to Pegasus Riding, a local charity helping children with disabilities enjoy horse riding.
Sign up here.
EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan says it's "unthinkable" for the EU and Australia not to strike a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Commissioner Hogan made the remarks during a high-level visit to Australia, 10-13 February, where he spoke extensively about the FTA negotiations. In Canberra, Commissioner Hogan met Australia's Trade Minister Simon Birmingham and Agriculture Minister David Littleproud (pictured) and Labor counterparts Joel Fitzgibbon and Jason Clare. He hosted a roundtable with key stakeholders from Australia's agriculture sector and met business leaders at a European Australian Business Council event in Sydney. In Queensland, Commissioner Hogan delivered a keynote address Good food means good business – origin products as a drive of rural jobs and sustainable growth at a high-level panel discussion on Geographical Indications – the EU's system of identifying food products based on origin. Read more about Commissioner Hogan’s visit here.
EU satellites have been providing Australian emergency services with high-quality real-time mapping of the recent Townsville floods. The EU's Copernicus satellites, which orbit the earth every day, play a critical role in rapid disaster response worldwide. Geoscience Australia and Emergency Management Australia used the maps in their strategic response to the devastating Townsville floods in February, which claimed four lives and caused half a billion dollars in damage to property and agriculture. Spyros Afentoulidis, from the European Response Coordination Centre, explains more in this SBS News report. Meanwhile in Tasmania, EU satellite images provided detailed information about the extent of the damage caused by bushfires in January. More ABC coverage here.
Economic and trade counsellors representing 16 EU Member States travelled to Western Australia (WA) to strengthen business, innovation and research ties as part of the 2019 WA European Business Week, 18-22 March. The delegation met local producers in the Margaret River to discuss the EU's Geographical Indications system, visited Australia's largest lithium mine in Greenbushes and the BHP refinery in the Kiwana industrial zone. The high-level delegation met with numerous state and federal politicians and took part in the business innovation and defense industry forums.
European envoys visit South Australia
European Ambassadors and a High Commissioner representing 14 EU Member States have been talking trade, investment and economic partnerships with senior political and business leaders in South Australia. The delegation spent two days in Adelaide, 28 February to 1 March, to learn more about the state and its key industries including defence, education, culture, research and innovation. Read more.
EU-Australia trade relations will be the focus of a new research centre at the University of Adelaide. The EU has provided funding to set up the Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence in International Trade and Global Affairs. Professor Richard Pomfret who will head the centre says: “At this time, when the political and economic landscape is changing in the context of Brexit, understanding of Europe has never been so relevant.” The centre will foster EU-Australia research, offer courses on European economic integration and sponsor study tours to Europe. Read more here.
More of Australia's top scientists will have the opportunity to join high-calibre research teams in Europe thanks to a new initiative funded by the European Research Council (ERC). The European Commission's Deputy Director-General for Research and Innovation Signe Ratso and Australia's Ambassador to the European Union Justin Brown signed the deal in Brussels on 13 February. Australia's chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel was also in attendance. A similar agreement was concluded in October 2018 between the ERC and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council – which has launched expressions of interest. Established in 2007, the ERC is the premiere European funding organisation for frontier research.
The EU and Australia will strengthen cooperation on private sector investment and infrastructure, climate action and gender equality in the Pacific. The joint statement was made during the visit of EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica to Australia on 5-7 March, following a tour to Samoa and French Polynesia. In Sydney, Commissioner Mimica delivered a keynote address at a high-level forum looking at infrastructure challenges and opportunities in the Pacific. He was joined by Australia's Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific Anne Ruston at the event hosted by the European Australian Business Council and the European Investment Bank. The EU is the largest donor to the Pacific after Australia and Japan, with funding amounting to EUR 900 million (2014-2020). In 2018, the EU started negotiating a new partnership agreement with Pacific island countries to further strengthen engagement in the region that is home to close to half a million EU citizens. Read more here.
When it comes to terrorism in the skies, "We have to be always one step ahead," European Commission’s Henrik Hololei, Director General for Mobility and Transport, told Fairfax Media during his visit to Australia, 3-6 March. Mr Hololei met aviation security experts representing Australia, the United States and Canada (known as the QUAD group) in Canberra to strategise against future threats. He held meetings with key aviation stakeholders including the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and Air Services Australia.
Australia's Trade Minister Simon Birmingham promoted the benefits of the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement for consumers, farmers and businesses during a visit to Brussels in late January where he met with EU Trade Minister Cecilia Malmström and addressed the European Parliament.
Stephen Quest, Director General of the Commission's department responsible for EU policies on taxation and customs (DG TAXUD), visited Australia March 18-22. He joined representatives from 100+ countries at the OECD Global Forum on Value Added Tax in Melbourne to collaborate on key policy and operational challenges faced by tax authorities in the era of digitalisation and globalisation.
Access all the latest updates on Brexit here.
Tens of thousands of festival-goers made their way across Europe at the National Multicultural Festival on Saturday 16 February. Ambassador Michael Pulch, EU Member State colleagues together with ACT Minister for Multicultural Affairs Chris Steel and International Engagement Commissioner Brendan Smyth officially opened the occasion. Stretching all the way down Bunda Street, the EU Village, including 25 Member States and Norway, proved yet again to be a highlight. Festival goers picked up their own 'EU Passport', had their passport picture taken and stamped their way through all the country stalls, discovering more about Europe’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and all it has to offer as a top destination for travel, study and commerce.
Stay tuned because the EU Hamper winners will be revealed in the next @EUinAus Update.
More than 15,000 people visited the exhibition at the Canberra Museum and Gallery, which concluded late February. The EU Delegation was a proud partner in the showcase that offered insight into the diverse work of a new generation of artists working in Europe today: from traditional painting and sculpture, to the use of found objects and incorporation of industrial materials, innovative photographic and digital works.
Plovdiv, the first Bulgarian city to be chosen as European Capital of Culture, will host 300+ events, activities and projects throughout 2019. Matera, in Italy's south will host 200+ events including the “Ars Excavandi” a contemporary look at the history and culture of subterranean architecture. The European Capitals of Culture is one of the most recognised EU projects, bringing people together to celebrate culture and identity. More info.
European film is well known for its ingenuity and cultural diversity. The EU Delegation to Australia brought some of the most exciting short films from across Europe to audiences in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth and beyond! The EU Short Film Showcase is part of Flickerfest, the nation's premier short film festival that celebrates some of the world's most talented filmmakers. Italian Consul Salvatore Napolitano opened the Brisbane festival and Greek Consul Antonios Koliadis opened the event in Perth. Some of the films are included in the 'Best of International Shorts' which continues to tour regionally to Gunnedah, South West Rocks, Alice Springs and Narrogin. For more info visit the website.
When two CCTV technicians find out about an AI machine threatening their jobs, they must get out of their chairs to beat the system - leading them to an unexpected solution. 'Best Game Ever' by Hungarian filmmaker Kristóf Deák was selected as the recipient of the 2019 EU Award at Flickerfest, beating outstanding entries from across Europe. The $1,000 Award was presented by Romanian Consul-General Iulian Nițu at a special ceremony in Sydney on 21 January on behalf of the EU Delegation to Australia.
The EU Summer School for secondary teachers and journalists, 21-22 January in Melbourne, was a great opportunity for participants to engage with experts, including the EU Delegation to Australia's Fabio Spadi, on EU topics linked to the school curriculum and in the media. The two-day interactive program was run by Swinburne University and the EU Centre at the RMIT University.
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