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Source: Prime Minister of Australia

Tomorrow evening I will meet the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, for the first European Union (EU) – Australia Leaders’ Meeting.

I will share perspectives on Australia’s health and economic response to COVID-19, developments in the Indo-Pacific, and the development of new technologies to reduce global emissions as we practically confront the challenge of climate change.

Australia and the EU share a vision for a stable, prosperous, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific. We are both supporting international efforts to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines in the region, including by supporting the COVAX Facility.

We have extensive people-to-people links and shared interests, including a deep commitment to freedom, democratic values and the multilateral system.

We are strong supporters of the World Health Organization and our partnership was critical in the World Health Assembly resolution that called for an independent evaluation of the origins and response to COVID-19.

The EU with its 27 member-states is Australia’s second largest trading partner and our largest source of foreign investment. We launched Free Trade Agreement negotiations in 2018 and our aim is a high quality, ambitious and comprehensive agreement. I hope we will conclude the negotiations next year.

An EU FTA will contribute to our economic recovery and market diversification. The Agreement will send a strong signal to the world on the value of open markets and trade based on clear and transparent rules. Supporting open, rules-based trade is vital as the world emerges from the pandemic recession.

Australia’s longstanding diplomatic relationship with the EU of almost six decades is now evolving into new areas of cooperation such as digital transformation, low emissions technology partnerships, cyber security, transport and space.

The Annual Leaders’ Meeting is a big step with a partner that is becoming even more important to Australia and the Indo-Pacific. This Meeting follows through on the commitment to annual dialogue that we agreed to at our meeting last year. I look forward to deepening our cooperation further.