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Transcript of joint press conference with President of European Commission: Brussels: 4 October 2010: ASEM; EU-Australia relationship



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The Hon Julia Gillard, MP

04 October 2010

President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso Transcript of joint press conference Brussels Subject(s): ASEM; EU-Australia relationship PRESIDENT BARROSO: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.

I am very pleased that Prime Minister Julia Gillard has come to Brussels, immediately after her election, and to participate in this ASEM Summit, and also that enable us to have this first bilateral meeting. I congratulate Prime Minister Gillard for her election and I wish her and Australia all the best.

This is also an occasion to welcome Australia's entry into ASEM, the ASEM process, and of course the European Union has very much supported that process.

The European Union has been Australia's largest trade and investment partner for more than 25 years now. But our relationship goes well beyond trade. We have also very useful dialogues on global challenges such as development cooperation - especially in the Pacific - or energy security, or climate change.

Prime Minister Gillard has made proposals to develop further the European Union-Australia relationship. I welcome this initiative, I will examine those proposals in detail, consulting Member States. Let me tell you on my own behalf, on behalf of the European Commission that we very much support the idea of upgrading and giving more important expression to the relationship between Australia and the European Union.

As partners in the G20, we have discussed financial and economic governance and also the need to cooperate in multilateral fora. We also discussed briefly on climate change, in advance of the meeting in Cancun. We agree that we have a common interest in strengthening our ability to deal with these challenges.

We will continue to work with Australia on this comprehensive agenda. And I thank again Prime Minister Gillard for her partnership on these important matters.

PM: Well can I say on my behalf thank you very much for our discussions today which have been very warm and very constructive. This is of course a very important relationship for Australia with the European Union and we've discussed the importance of that relationship today. And because it is an important relationship, as a nation, we are seeking to have a treaty which would detail the very important elements of what is a very comprehensive and strong relationship, and I'm very glad to have received the feedback, that whilst of

course this has to be the subject of consultation and further, there is a positive pre-disposition and I do personally thank you for that.

We've also taken the opportunity to talk through a range of matters, but most particularly work in the lead up to the G20 meeting in Seoul. At that meeting Australia does want to see progress made, particularly on the question of restructuring of the IMF, progress made on the economic framework as the globe recovers from the global financial crisis, and we did note that there is broad agreement to the financial reforms stemming from the global financial crisis.

So I very much enjoyed our discussions and and thank you for a warm and constructive discussion about what is a very strong and very deep relationship.

COMPERE: Thank you very much let's go to your questions now, who would like to ask a question, would you please come to the microphone, thank you very much.

JOURNALIST: Emma Alberici from ABC Australia. My question is to Julia Gillard, it's a domestic question. Your Opposition number Tony Abbott is currently in the UK, we understand that you invited him to go to Afghanistan with you but instead he chose to the Conservative Party Conference. What do you think about that?

PM: Look I think matters about Mr Abbott's travel schedule are probably better directed towards him.

COMPERE: So is there any other question? Would you please come to the microphone?

JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, Paola Totaro, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Can you give us a little bit more detail on the treaty that you're prosing to the EU to outline the relationship between Australia and Europe?

PM: I've got many Australian friends with me on the trip.

BARRASO: Good.

PM: The treaty would be, in our view it would be something that goes across the breadth of our relationship that has some priorities for further work. We have discussed today, and obviously all of this needs to be the subject of consolation and further discussion, but we have discussed today the possibility of further cooperation in research and development and innovation. As a nation we punch above our weight and of course I know it is a particular passion here at the European Union within the cooperation across the European Union and growing on their great strengths here in research and development.