MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
EMBARGOED UNTIL 730 pm, THURSDAY 26 JUNE
JOINT DECLARATION ON RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EUROPEAN UNION AND AUSTRALIA
26 June 1997
I signed today in Luxembourg with Mr Hans van Mierlo, the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs, representing the EU Presidency, and Sir Leon Brittan, Vice President of the European Commission, a Joint Declaration on Relations Between the European Union and Australia.
The Government places a high priority on strengthening relations with Europe following a period when many Australians and Europeans perceived that relations with Europe had been unnecessarily neglected. The conclusion of this Joint Declaration is another step in furfilling our commitment to developing this aspect of our foreign policy.
Signature of the Joint Declaration concludes two years of discussions on a new, more formal context for the increasingly substantial and wide-ranging relationship between the European Union and Australia. The focus of the relationship has broadened considerably over the last few years, reflecting the accelerating pace of EU integration, the strong and increasingly diverse trade and economic relationship and an increasing recognition by many European countries of Australia's key position. the Asia-Pacific region.
The Joint Declaration reconfirms our mutual commitment to continue developing the new, more positive relationship Australia and the EU have been building over the last few years. It provides a strong basis for taking that relationship into the next century. It outlines our objectives for bilateral cooperation across a wide range of areas including environment, employment, education and training, refugee and asylum matters, agriculture, scientific and cultural cooperation and consumer and competition policies. It underlines our commitment to continue working together in international fore to support common goals such as further multilateral trade liberalisation and the international promotion and protection of human rights. It also formalises arrangements for Ministerial and officials-level dialogue on key bilateral and international political, economic and trade issues.
The EU is Australia's second largest export market for goods and services and its largest source of imports and foreign investment. Australia and the EU are dealing with each other on a much wider range of issues than in the past and bilateral cooperation now extends to new areas such as science and technology, education and training, consumer protection and competition policy. Our political dialogue has also moved into new areas, reflecting both the rapidly changing international environment and the growing importance of the EU as an international player in its own right. Australia's position in the Asia-Pacific makes it an ideal partner for the EU in the further development of its commercial links with the Asia-Pacific region.
For further information contact Innes Willox (06) 277 7500 (Office)