The EU Centre initiative was first developed in the United States at the end of the 1990's. The initiative was subsequently introduced in different phases in other countries: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea and Singapore. In Australia and New Zealand, the first Centres were established in 2000-01.
The bilateral relations between the European Union on the one hand and Australia and New Zealand on the other have developed steadily over the years. The increasing breadth and depth of these bilateral engagements and cooperation is consistent with the ongoing integration of the European Union and its enhanced global role in economic policy, foreign and security policy and justice, home affairs and security issues. However, this growing interaction with the European Union is still taking place in the context of a limited awareness and understanding of the EU, its institutions and its policies in Australia and New Zealand.
Whilst acknowledging the role that education and research have to play in the economic growth of the European Union, there is also the clear need to increase knowledge about the European Union in other parts of the world. The core objectives of the EU Centre initiative in Australia and in New Zealand are to give impetus to European Studies and to raise awareness of the EU in the wider public. In addition, the EU Centre initiative aims to encourage academic exchanges with the EU and foster coordination between the different EU Centres that have been established over time.
In Australia and New Zealand, the number of EU Centres increased in 2006, with the selection of four projects - one in New Zealand and three in Australia.
In New Zealand the EU Centres Network (EUCN) at the National Centre for Research on Europe at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch encompasses eight NZ universities.
In Australia there are three Centres, as follows - the ANU Centre for European Studies (ANUCES) at the Australian National University in Canberra, the Monash Europe and European Union Centre (MEEUC) at Monash University in Melbourne and a Centre based at RMIT, also in Melbourne.