The Role of the EU Delegation
Following the entry into force of the European Union's (EU) reform treaty, the so-called Treaty of Lisbon, on 1 December 2009, the EU Heads of State and Government appointed Baroness Catherine Ashton as High Representative of the EU's Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The High Representative exercises, in foreign affairs, the functions which were previously exercised by the six-monthly rotating Presidency, the High Representative for CFSP and the Commissioner for External Relations.
As stipulated by the Treaty, the High Representative conducts the Union's common foreign and security policy, contributes by her proposals to the development of that policy and ensures implementation of the decisions adopted. She presides over the meetings of EU Foreign Ministers.
Baroness Ashton is also one of the Vice-Presidents of the Commission. She ensures the consistency of the Union 's external action. She is responsible within the Commission for responsibilities incumbent on it in external relations and for coordinating other aspects of the Union's external action. She represents the Union for matters relating to the common foreign and security policy, conduct political dialogue with third parties on the Union's behalf and expresses the Union's position in international organisations and at international conferences.
In performing these duties the High Representative is assisted by the European External Action Service (EEAS) including the Union's delegations in third countries and at international organisations.
The creation of the EEAS is one of the most significant changes introduced by the Lisbon Treaty. It aims at making the EU's external action more coherent and efficient, thereby increasing the EU's influence in the world.
The EEAS works in cooperation with the diplomatic services of the EU Member States. The EEAS builds upon the network of 130 European Commission delegations around the world. For over 50 years, these delegations have acted as the eyes, ears and mouthpiece of the European Commission vis a vis the authorities and population in their host countries.
With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, these offices became the Delegations of the European Union.
The Role of the EU Delegation in Australia
The European Union is represented in Australia by a Delegation in Canberra which was established in 1981. In 1984, the Head of Delegation was also accredited to New Zealand. The Delegation has full diplomatic privileges and immunities with the Head of Delegation accorded full ambassadorial status in both Australia and New Zealand.
The Delegation is responsible for the conduct of official relations between Australia and the European Union. In all matters pertaining to the European Union, the Delegation works closely with the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States. The Delegation is a natural point of contact between the EU and the Australian authorities as well as other interested parties in these countries.
The principal tasks of the EU Delegation in Australia are:
- To represent the European Union, as appropriate, in Australia.
- To enhance bilateral relations in the political, economic, commercial, environment, social and cultural fields, including new opportunities for cooperation.
- To inform the EU on political, economic, trade and development matters in Australia.
- To promote and protect the EU's interests and values and raise awareness of the EU and its policies particularly among our target audiences in Australia.
We do this by:
- Making and maintaining contact with key interlocutors across the political, media, economic, commercial, education, environment, social and cultural fields at the federal and state level.
- Keeping principal players in Australia informed of key developments in the EU.
- Undertaking public diplomacy activities to promote the EU's interests and engender a better understanding of EU affairs, its policies, purpose and aims.
- Facilitating the negotiation and implementation of bilateral agreements between the EU and Australia , through appropriate contacts and actions.
- Seeking to develop and encourage initiatives to promote broadly based cooperation with the aim of strengthening the bilateral relationship.
The Delegation issues news releases and other publications on EU matters with relevance to Australia. The Delegation produces a free weekly e-newsletter (news@eu) aimed at an Australian audience with business, political and cultural interest in the EU.
The Delegation does not however deal with trade promotion or other issues which have traditionally been handled by the Member State embassies, consulates, trade commissioners or national tourism offices.
Principal agreements between the EU and Australia include the European Union - Australia Partnership Framework signed on 29 October 2008, updating the Joint Declaration on Relations between the European Union and Australia, signed on 26 June 1997.
The European Commission has agreements and prospective agreements with Australia and New Zealand in the following areas: Science & Technology (Aus), Wine (Australia), Veterinary Inspection (Aus/NZ), Nuclear Safeguards (Aus), Conformity Assessment (Aus/NZ).
Together with the official representations of the Member States in Australia there are several other organisations which promote relations between the EU and Australia:
European Australian Business Council (EABC) is a national body established to promote the business interests of the Member States of the European Union which are represented by Chambers of Commerce and Industry. It is based in Sydney.
Europe Centres: The EU Centre initiative was first developed in the United States towards the end of the 1990's. The initiative was subsequently introduced in different phases in other countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, Korea and Singapore. In Australia, the first Centre was established in 2000-01 at the Australian National University in Canberra. There are now three such centres in Australia: the ANU Centre for European Studies (ANUCES) in Canberra, the Monash Europe and European Union Centre (MEEUC) at Monash University in Melbourne and a centre based at RMIT in Melbourne.
The goal of these Centres is to promote the study of the EU, to increase the understanding of EU-Australia relations, and to encourage and stimulate greater interest in EU affairs across all sectors: academia, government, business and industry, the media and the general public.
Australian Council for Europe (ACE) is a non-profit organisation established to promote Australia's relations with Europe. Its main chapter is in Brisbane.
There are also many bilateral organisations established to promote business, cultural and academic relations between Australia and the individual Member States of the European Union.
Australian European University Fellowships Foundations Association Incorporated is a grouping of several Australian Universities and has entered into a cooperation agreement with the European University Institute in Florence aimed at running an exchange programme between Australian and European students.
There are also many bilateral organisations established to promote business, cultural and academic relations between Australia and New Zealand and the individual Member States of the European Union.
The Delegations issue news releases and other publications on EU matters with relevance to Australia and New Zealand. The Delegation in Canberra also produces a free weekly e-newsletter (news@eu) aimed at both Australian and New Zealand audiences, as well as a quarterly hard copy publication called EU Review. The newsletters are aimed at an Australian and New Zealand audience with business, political and cultural interest in the EU. The Delegation also has an Information Centre dealing with enquiries relating to the EU, its institutions, legislation, statistics and publications. Some promotional material is also available on request. The information Centre liaises with the other sources of EU documentation located across Australia and New Zealand.
Delegation of the European Union to Australia
18 Arkana Street
Yarralumla ACT 2600
General tel: + 61 2 6271 2777
General fax: + 61 2 6273 4445
General emails: email@example.com