10/21/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 10/21/2020 05:57
Third EU-Australia Joint Committee reconfirms strong bilateral links and highlights avenues for further strengthened cooperation.
On 19 October 2020, the European Union and Australia held their third annual Joint Committee meeting at senior officials' level, by video conference.
As confirmed in recent contacts by phone at leaders' level, Australia and the EU are strong supporters of the international rules-based order and an effective multilateral system. They share a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, the protection and promotion of human rights, and gender equality.
The Joint Committee reviewed progress made on the bilateral agenda and discussed the scope to further strengthen dialogue and cooperation in line with these shared commitments.
The Joint Committee highlighted the significant contributions made by the EU and Australia toward the global response to COVID-19. The EU and Australian authorities have provided support to each other's citizens affected by travel disruptions caused by the pandemic.
At the EU-led Corona Virus Global Response pledging conference Australia contributed €210 million to the €15.9 billion raised for the worldwide collaborative development and universal deployment and access to diagnostics, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus. The EU and Australia reiterated support for universal, fair, equitable and early access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines and welcomed their cooperation in the COVAX Facility to which both sides have made substantial funding commitments, including an EU contribution of €400 million and an Australian contribution of €48 million to support vaccine access for low- and lower middle-income countries.
The EU informed Australia about the implementation in the Asia-Pacific region of its 'Team Europe' package amounting to around €36 billion to support partner countries worldwide in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences. The EU has dedicated €120 million for the Pacific and Timor-Leste. On the health front €25 million have been allocated to fight the spread of COVID and €95 million to mitigate its economic impact.
Australia informed the EU of its efforts to support health security, stability and economic recovery in the Indo-Pacific through its Partnerships for Recovery policy, including through a major pivot of its €2.4 billion Official Development Assistance budget in 2020-21, supplementary funding of €180 million for a COVID-19 Recovery Package for the Pacific and Timor-Leste, and Southeast Asia. Noting the ASEM COVID-19 Ministerial Statement of 7 September, both sides will continue to work for a sustainable, inclusive recovery.
The EU and Australia reiterated their support for the full implementation of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution of 19 May 2020, and acknowledged progress on the independent evaluation of the response to the pandemic. They reiterated their common interest in ensuring international health architecture, including the WHO and the International Health Regulations, are 'fit for purpose' to effectively address health emergencies. They also reiterated the continued importance of building strong health systems and maintaining access to essential health services to prevent an upsurge in other health risks and preventable diseases.
Security and resilience
The EU and Australia have agreed to continue further strengthening their exchanges on cyber security, disinformation, countering foreign interference, protecting critical infrastructure and countering violent extremism and terrorism. They will also further strengthen their cooperation in the framework of the structures created by the Countering Foreign Interference Summit.
They agreed on continuing engagement in crisis management and discussed opportunities for increased cooperation through the EU's Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), in conformity with the EU-Australia Framework Participation Agreement. Both will continue to exchange information on their respective humanitarian, crisis management and other peace and security related priorities. The EU and Australia agreed to cooperate in the area of critical raw materials/critical minerals.
Trade, Connectivity, Research
The Joint Committee noted the current status of the negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement and reiterated the objective of the EU and Australia to strive for a comprehensive and ambitious outcome.
The EU and Australia recalled their adherence to the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment, and for the implementation of these principles. They also recalled their commitment to promoting and enabling quality infrastructure investment that is sustainable, inclusive and based on the rule of law. They resolved to promote complementarity and coordinated action when working with partner countries on connectivity and sustainable infrastructure investment.
They reiterated their commitment to launch a dedicated EU-Australia Transport Dialogue through which transport cooperation will be deepened.
They agreed on the value of strengthening the EU -Australia research and innovation partnership under the framework of the EU-Australia Science and Technology Agreement.
Climate change and environment
The Joint Committee noted recent productive bilateral consultations on climate change and the environment and, in this context, agreed follow up actions including on: the circular economy, tackling biodiversity loss, sustainable fisheries and the protection of the marine environment as well as clean technology innovation, sustainable finance and reducing emissions from the land sector. Both sides noted the importance of accelerating deployment of key technologies to reduce emissions.
The EU and Australia underlined their commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and to step up global action to tackle climate change in the lead up to COP26 in 2021. They noted their respective efforts to demonstrate significant ambition on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and publishing low emissions development strategies to contribute towards global climate neutrality as soon as possible in the second half of the century and climate resilience.
Cooperation in multilateral and regional fora
The EU and Australia discussed further enhancing their cooperation in the UN and in other multilateral and regional fora, including the ASEAN Regional Forum and the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
The Joint Committee highlighted the constructive cooperation between the EU and Australia to promote progress on WTO reform, including their joint membership of the Ottawa Group of WTO members.
The EU and Australia share a commitment to advance sustainable development, including by implementing the 2030 Agenda and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
They exchanged views on their current and future development programmes and priorities in the Pacific, and highlighted areas of cooperation. The EU informed Australia of the post-Cotonou negotiations and Australia provided information on its Pacific Step Up initiative. They agreed to continue dialogue and coordination.
The EU delegation was led by Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director Asia and the Pacific, European External Action Service. The Australian delegation was led by John Geering, First Assistant Secretary, Europe and Latin America Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.