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Australia And EU: Secure Ties

  • March 2nd, 2009
  • Posted by Daniel Challis

The European Union held talks with government officials, academics and representatives of leading Australian think tanks last week, to discuss a “common approach” to security between the EU and Australia…


Helga Schmid of the Council Secretariat of the EU delivered a lecture last Thursday at the National Europe Centre in Canberra (26.2.09), based on her paper: “Australia and the EU: A Common Approach to 21st Century Security”.

Ms Schmid focused on Australians and Europeans seeing eye-to-eye on the changing nature of security.

“In the Cold War, it was about territorial defence. Now we face threats that are more diverse, more inter-linked and changing at a rapid rate,” she said.

Ms Schmid noted such threats as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, trans-national organised crime, energy security and climate change.

The director of the Policy Planning and Early Warning Unit stressed the need of countries to unite in the face of threats to security.

“We need to collaborate, through a multi-lateral system which is both effective and has broader legitimacy,” she said.


Australia and the EU share a “similar mindset” in terms of foreign policy, and would continue to be natural partners in the 21st Century, according to Ms Schmid.

“European diplomacy is by its very nature multilateral: our actions reflect a collective line agreed between all the Member states based on international law.

“In practising what Prime Minister Rudd has called ‘medium power diplomacy’, Australia is pursuing a similar tack,” she said.

Ms Schmid said Australia and the EU were also united on their “hard security” approach.

“Australia has a long tradition of sending her forces to serve overseas, and of giving support to UN peacekeeping.

“Over the last five years, the EU has mounted over 20 crisis management missions under our European Security and Defence Policy (EDSP),” she said.

The EDSP was created as part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy in response to Europe’s inability to prevent atrocities occurring in the Western Balkans, in the 1990s.


A five-MEP delegation led by Mr Giles Chichester from the European Parliament visited Australia last week (22-27.2.09) for meetings in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney.

The delegation met with host government and non-government officials, businesspeople and academics to talk about a wide range of issues including: climate change, education, the financial crisis, consumer affairs and sustainable energy.

It was the 32nd EU-Australia Interparliamentary meeting.


Delegation of the European Commission to Australia and New Zealand, ‘32nd EU-Australia Interparliamentary meeting’ (26.2.09),, (2.3.09).

Delegation of the European Commission to Australia and New Zealand, ‘Australia and the EU: A Common Approach to 21st Century’ (26.2.09), Accessed 2.3.09.