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Australia and the EU affirm phase of close cooperation

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Australia and the EU affirm phase of close cooperation   article image

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and European Commission President José Manuel Barroso discussed plans for strengthened cooperation between Australia and the European Union during bilateral talks in Canberra this week. Gillard and Barroso acknowledged the strong cultural, historical and economic ties between the regions. EU member states are Australia’s largest source of foreign investment and EU companies create 500,000 jobs in Australia. While already cooperating in forums such as the UN, the G20 and the WTO, the two leaders agreed to start negotiations on a bilateral agreement to provide a framework for joint action in foreign policy, development, trade and investment, climate change, science innovation and education. With the G20 in Cannes fast approaching, they agreed on the importance of pursuing strong, sustainable and balanced growth and reaffirmed the need to advance free trade and limit protectionism. The leaders agreed on the urgency of tackling climate change, welcoming each other’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas missions. The EU has had an emissions trading scheme since 2005, and the Australian Government plans to introduce a carbon tax in July 2012. The leaders hope to expand global carbon markets and establish Senior Officials Talks to discuss the implementation of economy-to-economy measures which would allow for linking of the emissions trading schemes in the future. Key progress was agreed upon in the following areas: A delegated cooperation arrangement for aid delivery was established. Delivering programs on each other’s behalf will enable AusAID and EuropeAid to capitalise on each other’s expertise, and deliver significant outcomes for developing countries. A new agreement was signed between Australia and the European Atomic Energy Community to spur further cooperation in nuclear safeguards and security. They welcomed an agreement on the exchange of classified information and progress towards an agreement on the exchange of air passenger name record, which will help combat terrorism and transnational crime. They agreed to cooperate further in education, training and culture, which will be reflected in the future Framework Agreement. Australia and the EU will develop joint degree projects to foster student mobility and the EU has included Australia as a partner country for cultural cooperation projects in its Culture Programme 2013.

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