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Europe Back to (modest) growth: Canberra envoy unsurprised …

  • August 16th, 2013
  • Posted by EU Australia

david-daly-2-reducedThe European Union’s Ambassador in Australia, David Daley, says emphatically Europe won’t be going broke and won’t be disbanding the Euro currency.

Two days after his comments in response to a student audience in Brisbane on 12.8.13, official figures came out in his support, showing the Eurozone in the last quarter edging out of recession.
CHANGES – CLOSER EU AND AUSTRALIA

Mr Daley was on a tour to finalise his current term, before moving on to his next appointment, in Sri Lanka.

•    That term has seen an intensification of EU-Australian relations including, formally closer relations, with a new “Framework agreement” under discussion to raise the level of consultation and joint action.
•    The process has been backed up with the ‘Conversations’ program involving high-level European representatives and Australians.
•    It has seen the agreement to put together Emissions Trading Schemes of the two entities, (though jeopardised now with the Australian Opposition against it, in this year’s elections).
•    The wine agreement has been completed, preventing European winemakers borrowing regional names from Australia (!) – and vice versa.
•    The European Union has been eclipsed by China as Australia’s first trading partner, while remaining as the main economic partner, taking in business relations, and most notably investment.
•    Collaboration in Development Assistance Cooperation has seen Australia undertaking to run EU programs in the Pacific region, and the EU acting for Australia in the new country of South Sudan – on both sides requiring democratic standards of governance where aid is being applied.
•    Passenger name records are being exchanged for flights between the two ends of the earth – a vital project for security and assistance in distress.

OLD CONFLICTS, NEW COOPERATION

EU flag fliesThe Ambassador reflected on the yet longer-term change being achieved since the ‘buffalo diplomacy’ days of tension over access to EU markets and competition for Australia on world markets from subsidised European goods.

“Diplomacy overwhelmingly focused on that issue. The Australian side complained … and our side explained why we would do that”, he said.

Changes began after 1990, with Europe’s massive farm support budget, under the Common Agricultural Policy going over to internal support for the rural regions, infrastructure, marketing and research – 90% of it now non-trade related.

Time for working together:

“Europe has always been searching for partners in the world with whom we share the same values, who would perhaps be like-minded, to handle undertakings more easily through sharing”.

The subjects would range through security issues and climate change, and then, the economic and financial crisis.

ECONOMIC BUST,  AND SPENDING UP IN BRASS RAZOOS?

What about the fairly-constant talk, especially in Business pages of Australian and British press, of possible collapse and abandonment of the Euro (maybe by Greece, then others)?

“No, and no”, said Ambassador Daley, referring to the concerted efforts by Europe since the 2008 Global Financial Crisis; to sustain its weaker and smaller economies, and avoid ‘contamination’ of the shared system; creating a ‘mini-IMF’ in the form of the European Stability Mechanism, and requiring budget tightening by member states to get them within the agreed performance boundaries for using the Euro group.

Mr Daley, from Ireland,  was speaking to Journalism students at the Queensland University of Technology.

ECONOMIES BACK TO GROWTH

eu-symbol-coinsThe European Union on Wednesday released figures on a cautious turn-around in economic fortunes, with a return to positive figures on growth for the EU as a whole (27 countries at the time, the second quarter of 2013, just before the inclusion of Croatia in the EU), and for the 17 countries in the ‘Eurozone’ – the ones so far using the Euro.

Some of the national economies still lagged, others, notably the large contributors Germany and France, looked to be considering a surge.

Its statement read:

“GDP rose by 0.3% in both the Euro area (EA17) and the EU27 during the second quarter of 2013, compared with the previous quarter, according to flash estimates published by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. In the first quarter of 2013, growth rates were -0.3% and -0.1% respectively. Compared with the same quarter of the previous year, seasonally djusted GDP fell by 0.7% in the Euro area and by 0.2% in the EU27 in the second quarter of 2013, after -1.1% and -0.7% respectively in the previous quarter.”

TALKING ON THE SAME NOTE

David Daley was formally farewelled in Canberra on 29.7.13, on an occasion that doubled as a book launch for a publication commemorating fifty years of relations between Australia and the European Union:

  • Celebrating 50 Years: EU-Australia, Canberra (2013), EU Delegation to Australia and New Zealand / Stroudgate,

Marles, RichardThe Australian Trade Minister, Richard Marles (picture) at that gathering, reflected the optimism coming from Europe on the lengthening process of cooperation and joint action:

“The pace and the substance of our engagement has never been stronger. We’ve recently concluded negotiations for a crisis management agreement, and this will strengthen our ability to respond jointly to international crisis, by enabling Australian contributions to EU-led missions…

“The trade and investment relationship has always been robust. Today EU’s 28 members together rank as Australia’s second-largest trading partner, with a total two-way trade of $81 billion in 2012 – a fact which is often forgotten, I think, in the context of Australia seeing its economic relationship with the world.

“The EU is also Australia’s largest source of foreign investment and the most common overseas destination for Australian investors.

“As active global citizens who have the same international reflexes, Europe and Australia are very much partners in promoting the shared values of freedom and democracy around the world, and this partnership is an important asset for Australia as we step up to the front-line of multilateral cooperation through our membership of the UN Security Council and through our chairing of the G20 next year in 2014.

“When looking at all of this, in sum, it is safe to say that Australia has been and continues to be very much the beneficiary of Europe’s integration and the EU status as a global player.

“We’ve made good progress on a framework agreement and we’ve seen a steady stream of high-level visits in both directions, including the European Commission’s President Barroso’s visit back in 2011, which was the first such visit to Australia by an EC President in nearly 30 years. And just recently we’ve had our own Governor General in the European Union as well.”

Reference

Eurostat, EU Brussels, Flash estimate for the second quarter of 2013
Euro area and EU27 GDP both up by 0.3% -0.7% and -0.2% respectively compared with the second quarter of 2012, 122/2013,14.8.13. http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/cache/ITY_PUBLIC/2-14082013-AP/EN/2-14082013-AP-EN.PDF, (15.8.13).

Hon Richard Marles, Minister for Trade, EU Diplomatic Corps Speech, Canberra, 29.7.13.
29.7.13. http://www.trademinister.gov.au/speeches/2013/rm_sp_130729.html, (15.8.13).

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