April 4, 2008
Turning their back on decades of quiet indifference, the EU and Australia have decided to upgrade their bilateral relations in order to meet global challenges such as climate change, security or trade. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso announced a new partnership framework', on 2 April in Brussels, on the occasion of the first visit of the new Australian leader since he took office in December 2007.
After eleven years of Conservative leadership under John Howard, who had brought his country as close as possible to the Bush administration, the EU is seizing the opportunity offered by the arrival of the Labour leader Kevin Rudd, who intends to rebalance Australian foreign policy. Embarked on a European charm offensive, Rudd said he wanted to establish "a new broad-based relationship with the EU". "We can do more," confirmed Barroso. In order to enhance their rapprochement, the two leaders took the unusual step to publish a joint statement outlining their decision to conclude a new partnership framework, including cooperation on "international security, trade, development issues, the Asia-Pacific region, climate change and energy, science and education, aviation and the movement of people, including visas".
The EU and Canberra have often been at odds over issues such as trade, agriculture or more recently the fight against global warming. Rudd's decision to ratify the Kyoto Protocol on the day he took office was hailed by the EU and seen as the possible opening of a new chapter in bilateral relations. The prime minister confirmed this new political direction by committing to work closely with the Commission in forging a post-2012 global agreement on climate change "that will deliver the deep cuts in emissions the world requires". Barroso described Australia's support as "critically important". The EU hopes that Canberra will use its privileged contacts with the US and China to convince them to commit to a binding global agreement. Following his discussions with US President George Bush in Washington, Rudd, who is a fluent Mandarin speaker, was expected to raise the issue with the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, in Beijing on 9 to 12 April. "Time is ticking away," commented the prime minister.
The World Trade Organisation's Doha Round of trade talks was also on the agenda. Barroso and Rudd discussed this issue at length with Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. While consultations among negotiators have been intensifying over the last weeks in Geneva, both leaders reaffirmed the importance of striking a deal rapidly. "This Doha Round is doable. There is an urgent need to conclude this round as a shot in the arm for the global economy which has been going through a period of considerable stress," said the Australian prime minister, whose country has always been at the forefront of trade liberalisation, especially in the field of agriculture. He indicated that the coming weeks would be "critical" in order to conclude a global deal by 2008 and before the current US administration leaves office.
Barroso stated that a deal was "possible," but was not specific regarding the timetable. Australia, as a leading member of the Cairns Group, is pursuing an aggressive liberalisation agenda in agriculture while many EU member states believe that the Commission has already made too many concessions in this field during the multilateral negotiations that started in 2001. "There will be difficult negotiations about agriculture," predicted Rudd.
Rudd also met with High Representative Javier Solana and stressed the growing importance of EU-Australian cooperation in the field of security, especially in Asia. European and Australian personnel are cooperating in Afghanistan and East Timor (Timor Leste). Rudd hailed the positive influence played by the EU in the Pacific region, through its aid programmes. A positive comment that contrasts with the often critical views that Canberra had taken in the past about European involvement in the region. "Europe has much to offer," said Rudd, highlighting the change of tone in Canberra.
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sábado, abril 05, 2008
Por Malai Azul 2 à(s) 23:38
Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!
Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006
"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "