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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the meeting with Ms Julia Eileen Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia
Canberra, 5 September 2011
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I am very happy to be in Australia.
Australia is one of Europe’s most like-minded partners. We share a common heritage, core interests and core values: democracy and human rights, but also openness, tolerance and global responsibility. In an integrated world, that is not a small feat.
The excellent discussion today with the Prime Minister and with an important number of Ministers reflects the rich and dynamic nature of the EU-Australia Partnership and our shared interests.
And I hope that my visit will contribute to a further strengthening our vibrant cooperation, both bilaterally and in multilateral institutions.
The joint statement that we have just issued illustrates the depth and breadth of our increasing cooperation.
On the bilateral level, we agreed last year to upgrade our partnership by means of a Framework Agreement that would put our relationship on a new footing.
Therefore, the EU Commission has sought a mandate from our 27 Member States to negotiate such a new, ambitious Agreement, and I hope this mandate can be approved next month. We could start talks with Australia right after that.
This agreement would serve as an “umbrella” for the many areas of our thriving cooperation:
From the field of nuclear safety – the Prime Minister and I signed a new agreement on this today – to the exchange of passenger name records, which is crucial for the security of our travellers and where we also plan to sign a new agreement by the end of the year.
On the point of climate change, we spoke about our shared commitment to tackle this challenge. Australia’s decision to put a price on carbon emissions is, in our view, an important step, both environmentally and economically, because it is in our European experience the most cost-efficient way to reduce emissions and also a great, green business opportunity.
We will now continue our joint work for a global climate regime and discuss on experts level how we could gradually link up our emissions trading systems in the future.
We also discussed our cooperation in the Pacific region where the EU is the second biggest donor after Australia. We share the same strategic objectives of consolidating democracy and promoting prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We did of course also speak about the global economic situation. We exchanged views on the G20 Summit in November in Cannes, which should focus on rebalancing global growth, international monetary reform, financial regulation and tackling the volatility in commodity prices. We also share a commitment to open trade, which is obviously crucial in the current crisis. Australia and the EU share a commitment to resist protectionist tendencies.
I also briefed the Prime Minister and her Government on the economic situation in Europe and highlighted the determined measures that the EU is implementing to address the sovereign debt crisis.
I want to be very clear here: The EU and the Euro are strong and resilient, and we are doing all it takes, from tackling the underlying budget problems to strengthening the governance of the Euro-zone, from tighter financial regulation to improving our overall competitiveness.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you can see, relations between Australia and the EU are becoming more substantial by the day. There is still great potential, and I am confident that my visit is a further step to using these opportunities together;
Because in our global world "you don’t have to be a neighbour to become a good friend!"