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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Remarks by President Barroso to members of the European Union Leadership Dialogue with Australia
European Union Leadership Dialogue/Brussels
5 June 2013
It is an honour to welcome in Brussels Her Excellency the Governor General of Australia, accompanied by a delegation of distinguished Australian business representatives.
This visit comes at a particularly opportune moment when the EU- Australia relations are moving to a much higher degree of cooperation and political alliance.
I can proudly say that I share some of the responsibility for this rapprochement, as the process to negotiate a modern and ambitious Framework Agreement was initiated 2 years ago, during my visit to Australia.
I have very good memories of that visit and of the warm welcome which I received by all those I met, including you Governor General – with whom I have just had a very interesting conversation - and also our friends from the EABC (Europe Australia Business Council), I remember well our previous contacts
Our world is changing at a breath-taking pace and interdependence is bringing us even closer together but the reality is that it is also throwing up new challenges, from global issues; such as the challenge of sustainability, climate change and global security threats, but also the global spill-over our economic policies may have.
All of this means that the phrase "we are all neighbours" is no longer a cliché: it is a fundamental fact which must inform our all our policies.
In order to manage, and to profit from this new interdependence we must be ready to both broaden and deepen our existing relationships. The solution to current economic difficulties is not found by withdrawing inwards but by stretching outwards.
This is our objective with Australia. We need to build on our political like mindedness and on our solid economic relationship.
I am glad to see that despite our physical distance the European Union remains Australia's second-largest trading partner after China, and it is its most significant trading partner in services. It is also the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) and the largest destination for Australian FDI overseas.
We should try to further expand our bilateral trade by improving market access, where possible on a reciprocal basis.
We also need to continue working together to advance the Doha Development Agenda and the pluri-lateral agreement on services. Reaching agreement on Trade Facilitation would be of considerable economic and systemic importance.
I am particularly looking forward to Australia's G20 chairmanship in 2014, which will enable us to exchange and coordinate closely on matters of utmost importance for the global economy today.
But our cooperation of course cannot be exclusive to the executives or to the officials. It needs to include civil society and businesses which are the motor of our relations.
This is why I would like to commend this initiative to establish an European Union-Australia Leadership Dialogue.
This is an outstanding opportunity to extend our regular exchanges and cooperation also to the business communities on both sides.
I understand that it is your intention to keep this dialogue mainly a private sector initiative, and so it is important that you find the necessary 'champions' on the European side to help drive it forward.
We, of course, the European Commission, remain ready to facilitate and support in this endeavour.
The European Commission and I will remain at your disposal and rest assured that we remain very committed to European Union-Australia relations.
For us this is as much a choice as a necessity. Because if we in Europe, if we want to embrace the world, we need to hold hands with Australia.
Thank you for your attention.