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Australian PM Brussels Visit

  • October 3rd, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

brussels-grand-place.jpegCOMMENTARY: A welcome mat has gone out for Julia Gillard, at the Asia- Europe Meeting in Brussels, her first appearance as Australian Prime Minister at an international gathering – though not the greatest of summits in terms of the attendance of heads of government this time.

Ms Gillard stopped en route to Europe, in Afghanistan, where she saw the President, Hamid Karzai, the ISAF Commander General David Petraeus, and several Australian soldiers watching the AFL  Grand Final; she is also visiting Zurich to talk to the Football organisation, FIFA, about Australia’s bid to host the 2022 World Cup.


This is the first year that Australia, New Zealand and Russia will be included as part of the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM), the 48-member assembly of Asian and European countries.

brussels-scene.jpgInitial previews from Brussels put much weight on the entry of Russia as a key source of resources in world trade, fairly reflecting perennial concerns in Europe as to where next Winter’s oil and gas might come from.

A briefing by a panel of seven at the level of ambassadors, senior EU officials and leading academics (16.9.10), did think to mention the newcomer from the south:

“Australia sees itself as an active middle power while Russia, as a ‘re-emerging power’ wants concrete gains from ASEM”, said the “Event Report” from the forum organised by a consortium of EU think tanks.


asem1.jpgThe two-day gathering which starts on Monday (4-5.10.10), has a long agenda,  ranging though global economic governance (especially moves for changing the crisis-prone  international finance  system, and regulating banks); imbalances in world trade, incomes and development; sustainable development, energy efficiency and climate change; technology innovation, and the idea of “social protection” safety nets for people in all countries. In the field of freedom and security the talks are set to focus on human rights and people-to-people contacts, weapons of mass destruction, tensions in  Korea, and forthcoming elections in Myanmar.

One feature of the meeting will the a series of “leaders on their own” sessions where government representatives will talk without the presence of their officials.


Several of the actual heads of government (e.g. from India, Indonesia, the Philippines and Russia) will not be there, due to distractions elsewhere, though Prime Minister Wen Jaibao from China is a committed attender and better support is expected from the European side.

gillard.jpgMs Gillard (picture) might regard it as a good practice for other gatherings, in Asia, later this month and in November: an East Asia summit and Australia-ASEAN leaders’ summit in Hanoi; the G20 leaders summit in Seoul, and the meeting of APEC leaders in Yokohama. (See EUAustralia On line, “Gillard starts overseas moves …”, 25.9.10).

A preview article issued by the ASEM organisation,  by Shada Islam and Philomena Murray, talks about the long delay in getting Australia to the table:

“Almost 14 years after it first applied, Australia joins the 48 member Asia – Europe meeting next week

“ Ms Gillard’s participation  … draws attention to Australia’s drive to strengthen engagement with both Asia and Europe.

“It also boosts ASEM’s credibility as a forum for international dialogue and consultation between the two groups …”  Full article: *


ASEM8, ASEM Infoboard, Brussels,, (3.10.10).

ASEM8 Visibility Team, Event Report:  EU for Asia Brussels Briefing… 16.9.10, Brussels, 27.9.10.

Shada Islam and Philomena Murray, “Better late than never as Australia joins ASEM “, ASEM8 Visibility Team, Brussels, 1.10.10. * , (3.10.10).

EU, EU External Action, The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), Brussels., (3.10.10).

EC, EU-Asia Summit (Brussels 4-5.10.10), Brussels,  MEMO/10/460, 30.9.10., (3.10.10).