Economic and Trade Relations between the EU and Australia are based on the EU-Australia Partnership Framework of October 2008.

The Partnership Framework sets forth the following goals:

  • A broader and stronger trade and investment EU-Australia partnership;
  • Stronger EU-Australian governmento-business linkages (Facilitation of enhanced government-business linkages between Australia and the EU through two-way visits and activities involving business);
  • A mechanism to simplify the resolution of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and/or food safety issues between the European Union and Australia;
  • Finalisation of the negotiations on a Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement between the EU and Australia. This agreement might provide a practical framework for cooperation on aviation environment issues, enhancing market access and investment opportunities and to ensure wider regulatory cooperation in aviation safety and security.
  • Stronger aviation relations between the EU and Australia
  • Development of the bilateral trade relationship;
  • Increase capacity for dialogue on propoed new regulations on bilateral trade and investment, reducing risk of adverse impact of new regulations and of potential disputes
  • A stronger and broader trade and investment Australia-EU partnership, notably in renewable energy and clean technology;
  • Identification of practical cooperation in energy efficiency and sustainable low emission technologies; improving the operation of energy markets and promoting energy trade and investment;
  • Identification of practical cooperation in renewable energy sources, including the sustainable production of biofuels; development, demonstration and deployment of safe and sustainable low emission technologies in Australia, the EU and third countries, including e.g. carbon capture, storage and use and other clean coal technologies.


From a business perspective, the current EU-Australia Partnership Framework presents four main problems:

  1. Excessively broad: the broadness in terms of the thematic areas covered makes it difficult to focus on the business sectors' priority issues;
  2. Excessive number of initiatives in each thematic area: within each thematic area of the Partnership Framework, the one that is of highest interest to the business sector, there is a great number of initiatives foreseen, which makes it difficult to prioritize and focus on initiatives at this level;
  3. Absence of specific targets and objectives: There are no specific targets and objectives to achieve relating to the different initiatives. This reduces accountability of the agenda and the incentives for the production of deliverables for the governmental agents involved in the process. Even when the specific issue or initiative is relevant to the business sector, it is difficult to perceive how the proposed treatment can lead to concrete results with positive effects for the decisions of Australian and European businessmen; and
  4. Absence of an integrated approach: the Framework lacks a conception of an integrated project with a high level of political priority with clearly defined responsibilities for its implementation and accountability.

The EU-Australia Partnership Framework is lagging behind in unequivocally defining precise objectives, timeframes and a methodology to achieve the objectives. Furthermore, the Partnership Framework was elaborated without the support of a broad consultation process, which could have provided the opportunity to include the priority initiatives from the point of view of the private sector. However, this consultation process has not been put in place. 

It is now up to the private sector on both sides to articulate a pro-business EU-Australia Partnership Framework one that gets things done. Business leaders from Australia and the  EU need to support their political leaders to create a dynamic business partnership and to strengthen economic cooperation between the two economies. The Private Sector needs to provide feedback on the implementation of the EU-Australia Partnership Framework, and identify priority areas for consideration by the political leaders. 


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