The relationship between Australia and the European Union does not seem to attract much attention. Few books had been written on it, and the general impression is that this relationship is not put forward by neither Australia nor the EU. While many scholars focus today on the importance of Asia as a trade partner and a regional opportunity, and while the world's current affairs show how close is Australia to the United States, the European Union is often relegated to the second rank. Nevertheless, the EU is still a crucial partner to Australia.
In his article, “Australia, Britain and the European Union”, David Goldsworthy distinguishes three key themes of the relationship between Australia and the EU: its extreme asymmetry, its focus on trade and the particular role of the United Kingdom. According to him, these factors contribute in one way or another to the relative weakness of the relationship. The asymmetry is easy to grasp. As Goldworthy succinctly puts it, Australia needs the EU a good deal more than the EU needs Australia. On the other hand, Australia and Europe do share common values as Western capitalistic countries as well as a common history, linguistic and cultural links… The focus on Britain, the “historical” partner of Australia, should not hide the fact that Europe had greatly evolved in the past 50 years. The “Old Continent” has reinvented itself, and its relationship with Australia should not be defined only through Britain anymore.
[...] Australia still refuses to consider climate change outside the economic realm, while the EU is focusing on a humanitarian and ecological message, both approaches looking equally suspicious to the other. While 2012 and the end of the Kyoto Protocol is coming closer, the question of Australia's attitude to the fight against global warming remain crucial in its future cooperation with the EU. The future of the relationship The Agenda for Cooperation mentioned by Goldsworthy is covering the period between 2003 and 2008, and is thus almost at its end. [...]
[...] Nevertheless, the EU is more and more active on the international scene, whether it be through security or environmental issues, and this shift affects its relationship with Australia. Trade: a healthy and growing relationship 2006 trade results Trade is without a doubt the most thriving field of cooperation between Australia and the EU. Goldsworthy's description of this trade relationship is still accurate today. Last July, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade published the 2006 results of Australia's trade with the EU. [...]
[...] As the EU is trying to gain importance as a political and diplomatic power, its new Security and Defence Policy sent European troops in Indonesia in August 2005. The Banda Aceh mission was the first civil peacekeeping action of the European Union as an entity in Asia. While most ESDP missions are still located in the Balkans and in Africa, the EU is also expressing its interest for Asia. Australia thus appears like a strategic partner, as both the EU and Australia are trying to promote stability and peace in the region. [...]
[...] As Murray expresses at the end of the book, I also believe that the relationship between Australia and the EU is more than memory, but can also evolve and broaden its range in the future. As the EU is enlarging and deepening its institutions and policies, more and more fields of cooperation with Australia will emerge. Bibliography James Cotton and John Ravenhill, Seeking Asian Engagement, Australia in World Affairs, 1991-1995, Oxford University Press p.230-247. Stephanie Lawson, Europe and the Asia-Pacific, Culture,Identity and Representations of a Region, RoutledgeCurzon p.66-85 Philomena Murray, Australia and the European Superpower, Engaging with the European Union, Melbourne University Press Philomena Murray, Annmarie Elijah and Carolyn O'Brien, “Common ground, worlds apart: the development of Australia's relationship to the European Union” in Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol.56, No p.395-416. [...]
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