EU Australia Online - News & information from the capital of Europe direct to Australian businesses

EC President’s Visit: Carrying The Banner

  • September 6th, 2011
  • Posted by 7thmin

eu-flagg-eu.jpgJose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, has had a day of selling the European idea to a not-always-aware Australia, 6.9.11.


In two major addresses he explained the recent expansion of the EU, as a form of government, its economic size and weight, closeness to Australia – and its strong awareness of common interests.

That awareness is not always reciprocated; it can be a little blurred at the Southern end of the equation.

Much understanding of the European Union reaches Australian interests through “Eurosceptic” filters especially in  Britain, whether through commentary in news media, or networks set up in the colonial era (in business, academic life, law, on and on) – often enough reinforced by memories of great days living in Earl’s Court.


barroso-strasbourg-19-june-07.jpgJose Manuel Barroso, 55, is a lawyer and former academic who was Prime Minister of Portugal, with the centre-right party PSD, from 2002-04. He has been President of the European  Commission since 2004.

Delivering the Europe Australia Business Council Oration, in Sydney, he reiterated support for the Australian government project for a trade in carbon, as a response to climate change; and for economic changes of the recent decades:

“Australia has managed to deliver something very commendable in economic and business terms: consistent reform”, he said.

“These reforms in recent decades have prepared Australia to meet the challenges of globalisation head-on.

“Yet you have done this in a way that ensures important social protections, and without carrying a heavy debt burden; I congratulate you for that …


“The European Union too is something of an economic miracle when you consider our continent’s history of conflict and its division through the Cold War.

“Today we constitute the world’s largest market and trading bloc and we often set the global pace in a range of fields that directly affect Australia’s business interests. I am thinking here of fields as diverse as competition policy, broadband, privacy regulation and industrial standards.


“Our governance can sometimes confuse even close partners; but as one recent American ambassador remarked: ‘there is not yet a single phone number, however the EU is the switchboard.’

“Europeans have a long history of investment in Australia.

“Our companies are the leading direct investors in Australia, with $A131.6bn invested.

“Majority EU owned-companies have directly created around 500,000 jobs.

“Taking into account multiplier effects, our investments support more than 1.4 million jobs. All in all, more than 2,400 EU companies have a presence in Australia …

“That is a level of success we would love to see matched by Australian investment in the EU.

“It is not just well-known names like Thales, ING, Accor, Moet Hennessy and Pernod Ricard, who make an impact. Lower profile contributors like ISS in facilities services and Acciona in clean energy and infrastructure are also making their mark.

“The example of Thales is instructive about where our relationship has come from and where it is headed. Thales has been operating on this continent since the 19th century and is now one of Australia’s leaders in research and development. It supplies everything from the Australian Army’s main rifle and infantry vehicle through to the world-leading EUROCAT air traffic management system developed in Melbourne.”


Earlier the EC President proposed a theme of cooperation between Australia and the EU, in Asia and the Pacific.

“It is certainly true that the world is experiencing a great rebalancing of power, mostly centred on Asia”, he said in a keynote address at the Australian National University.

“It is also true that Australia is ahead of the global pace in embracing this shift; we view favourably Australia’s increasing economic links and participation in Asian regional fora, and want to connect with your experience in the region.

“Let me assure you that the European Union affirms the rise of Asia as a win-win situation for the world, which Europe wants to be a part of.

“These shifts do not mean Europe is irrelevant, either to Australia or global affairs; in fact the rise of Asia and other emerging economies is also directly linked to the policies of open economies, free trade, stability and development assistance that the European Union has championed over the years …


“While the European Union’s geo-political power is not military in nature, it is not limited to soft and economic power.

“Foreign policy today goes well beyond trade and peace; It stretches from climate change negotiations to migration flows to counter-terrorism to food, development and aid.

“On issues as diverse as competition law, industrial standards and privacy, Europe’s influence spreads virally in a way that tends to encourage a global race to the top rather than a race to the bottom.


“What is relevant to the European Union’s relationship with Asia and Australia is that these are all areas where the European countries have chosen to delegate all or part of their sovereignty to the EU institutions”, Said Jose Manuel Barroso.

“The European Union is as deep and real as its Member States; and so the EU’s relevance as a global actor is increasing, even as the relative influence of countries in Asia and groupings such as ASEAN is rising also.

“Recent substantial overhaul of our structures and institutions, primarily through the Lisbon Treaty, allows us to increasingly act with the coordinated and united voice that the world seeks from Europe.

“In coming years and decades this will enable the European Union to increase its global footprint – extending beyond its place as an economic superpower…


“The European Union is fully aware that Australia is also adjusting its global engagement and is not content to play a narrow regional role.

“As an active middle power and an essential partner in international forums such as the UN and G20, and events from Afghanistan to the Arab Spring, the EU and Australia stand together on the global stage.

“Through our Partnership Framework, a welcome step forward in 2008, we are already giving significant emphasis to our shared global challenges in our formal relationship.

“Building on this momentum the Commission, like the Australian Government believes it is time to go further – to open a new chapter in the relationship.

“This is why I welcomed Prime Minister Gillard’s proposal to upgrade relations, made during the Asia-Europe summit last October.

“The European Commission has responded positively by recommending to EU Member States that we open negotiations with Australia for a treaty-level Framework Agreement: to govern and give impetus to our relationship.

“Yesterday I had very productive exchanges with Prime Minister Gillard in this regard. We agree that we must anchor our relationship for the long term, and our challenge is now to transfer our shared interests into shared treaty-level commitments and action.

“These processes naturally take time, but I believe if we can reach agreement on the far-reaching exchange of highly classified information, as we have done in July 2011, then we have good hopes of progress.

“I believe we have a lot to learn and gain from each other.

“Such an agreement would provide a basis for closer cooperation on a wide range of sectoral policies; from education and science through to counter-terrorism and also the fight against proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.”


Mr Barroso found time to notice, and mention the “beautiful Sydney day”, emerging from the Southern Winter, mostly sunny, 20-degrees.

He is travelling on to New Zealand for the South Pacific Forum, perhaps for a glimpse of the balmy South Pacific.

Had the visitor been noting the preoccupations of local mass media on the trip; amid the political tribulations of his host the Prime Minister, might have been, the case of the 50000 red flying foxes in the outback town of Blackall.

flying-foxes.jpgThese are fruit bats (picture), carriers of a lethal cross-species infection, but in this case unpopular for roosting in a private back yard, creating noise, and smell.

This week the jig was up; a permit had been issued to move the protected animals on, by the deployment of human noise; half the town expected to attend, hollering, banging tins, starting-up chain saws, and motor mowers – whatever it might take.

From a neighbouring inland town, Dalby just 1000-kilometres South-east, came another patch of local colour: a young man in a monkey suit on a bicycle, upsetting pedestrians, was in-the-end arrested – they said he was a public nuisance.

We have been listening, sir; we just have many things to think about.


EU Delegation to Australia, Canberra: (5.9.11) Joint Press conference: President Barroso and Prime Minister Gillard; Meeting between Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, and President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso; José Manuel Durão Barroso, President of the European Commission, Statement by President Barroso following the meeting with Ms Julia Eileen Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia Press point Canberra; Joint statement, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Canberra.(6.9.11) President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, Keynote Address at Australia National University, Canberra, “Shared futures: Europe and Australia in the 21st century”; Europe Australian Business Council Oration, Sydney; “Old allies, new opportunities: EU – Australia business links towards 2020”., (6.9.11).

Pictures   EU, ABC