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Shifting EU-Australia Interests Says MEP

  • June 7th, 2007
  • Posted by EUEditor

chichester-resize.jpgThe Chairman of the European Parliament delegation to Australia and New Zealand, Giles Chichester, (pictured), says new world problems have forced themselves onto the EU-Australia agenda and have been creating more common ground.

Giles Chichester MEP said in Brussels (6.6.07) two-way dealings once dominated by agriculture had moved on to urgent concerns over energy, water, immigration and relations with China.

He was reviewing a recent Australian visit by a European Parliament delegation that took in Sydney, Perth and Uluru, and talks in Canberra with the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

He told a lunch organised by the Australian overseas business group, ABIE, the European side was interested in proposals for development of a nuclear industry in Australia, occupying the full cycle from an expansion of uranium exports to treatment and storage of industrial waste.

Australia’s current problems with severe drought had been noted by its trading partner.

“Australia is a virtual exporter of water, in some of its cash crop products,” he said.

He said the European Union was having trouble with immigration especially with integration of its Islamic population, and was looking at Australia’s successes and problems with multiculturalism.

Both sides had been rapidly increasing their overseas trade, with each other and with emerging economies especially China.

Mr Chichester (British, Conservative) is the son of the late Sir Francis Chichester, the aviator and lone yachtsman who circumnavigated the world in the 1960s, making one landfall, at Sydney, on the way.

The Australian Ambassador to the European Union, Alan Thomas, told the gathering long-standing differences over agricultural trade “would not go away”.

However the mix of common interests had changed to include new challenges and opportunities with climate change and energy, and a focus on doing business in the Asia-Pacific region.

Dr Thomas was the Australian Ambassador to China for four years up to 2006.