Australia-EU FTA & Framework Agreement
From left to right: Mr Jean-Claude JUNCKER, President of the European Commission; Mr Donald TUSK, President of the European Council; Mr Scott MORRISON, Prime Minister of Australia. Credit: EC Audiovisual Service
The EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement
The Australian Prime Minister together with the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission agreed in a joint statement on 15 November 2015 to start the process towards a comprehensive and high-quality Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
On 7 April 2017, Australia and the EU successfully completed a joint FTA scoping exercise, as a key step toward the launch of the negotiations. Both sides are now working through their domestic processes to secure approval of a negotiating mandate.
In his State of the European Union Speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called for the EU-Australia Free-Trade Agreement to be signed before the end of the current European Commission’s mandate, in July 2019.
On 22 May 2018, the Council of the European Union approved the European Commission’s negotiating mandate, thus allowing formal negotiations to start later in the year. In a press release, European Trade Commissioner Dr Cecilia Malmström announced she would visit Australia in June to officially launch the FTA negotiations.
Launch of Negotiations
On 18 June 2018, European Commissioner Malmström, Australian Prime Minister Turnbull and Australian Trade Minister Ciobo officially launched the negotiations, on the occasion of Commissioner Malmström’s to Canberra.
The first round of negotiations was held in Brussels on 2-6 July. The EU negotiating team was led by Ms Helena König, Chief Negotiator and Deputy Director General for Trade. The Australian team was led by Ms Alison Burrows, Chief Negotiator and First Assistant Secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The first round focused on establishing negotiation groups and organising future works. According to the EU, negotiating teams also “started substantive discussions on almost all chapters“.
Discussions were held including on trade in goods, trade in services and investment, government procurement, technical barriers to trade, customs procedures and trade facilitation, rules of origin, IP (including GIs), competition, trade and sustainable development, energy and raw materials, and others.
The following week, the European Commission issued a report of the first round of negotiations, available here.
The second round of negotiations on the Australia-EU FTA was held in Canberra on 19-23 November.
Further progress was made across the FTA in a positive atmosphere. There were useful discussions on goods and market access, including modalities and ambition for initial offers, and on services and investment. Australia presented its proposals on professional services and customs trade facilitation. Australia and the EU agreed to chapter text provisions in a number of areas of the negotiations. The third round of negotiations will be held in March 2019.
Key Interests and benefits
- A comprehensive, modern and high quality Australia-EU FTA would provide a framework to address existing and emerging issues, as well as common challenges facing both economies
- An Australia-EU FTA would help to ensure our trade and investment relationship reaches its full potential
- An Australia-EU FTA would remove barriers to trade in goods
- An Australia-EU FTA could expand services linkages and investment ties
- An Australia-EU FTA could enhance regulatory cooperation in specific sectors of interest to business.
Hon Steven Ciobo MP, Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment; Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister; and Dr Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade (© European Union , 2018 / Source: https://twitter.com/malmstromeu/status/1008535513341366272)
Framework Agreement between the European Union and Australia
The Framework Agreement between the European Union and Australia was signed by High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop at Manila, Philippines, on 7 August 2017.
The new Framework Agreement was provisionally applied on 4 October 2018. The Agreement enhances EU-Australia cooperation, including notably through addressing counter terrorism and cyber threats, promoting an effective WTO rules-based global trading system, taking forward security cooperation and promoting nuclear non-proliferation. It also covers education, culture, research, innovation and trade, investment and tourism, where links are long standing and generate mutual benefits for EU and Australian citizens.
The full text of the Framework Agreement is available here.
As part of the ratification process, the Australian Joint Standing Committee on Treaties opened an inquiry on the Framework Agreement with the EU.
The EABC made a submission, which is available here.
Useful Links & Publications
- Report of the 2nd round of negotiations 19-23 November 2018
- Report of the 1st round of negotiations 2-6 July 2018
- Press Conference on EU-Australia FTA – June 2018
- Media Release – European Commission June 2018
- European Commission’s Negotiating Directives for an FTA with Australia – June 2018
- Media Release – European Australian Business Council May 2018
- Media Release – European Commission May 2018
- Media Release – Australian Government May 2018
- PwC’s Study on Free Trade Agreement Utilisation Study (commissioned by DFAT)
- Australia, the EU and the New Trade Agenda (ANU Press, Australia)
- Business Envoy, January 2018 (DFAT)
- Impact Assessment – European Commission September 2017