Written by Krisztina Binder,
Graphics: Giulio Sabbati and Samy Chahri,
The prospective EU-Australia free trade agreement (FTA) will complement the economic dimension of the current longstanding and evolving relationship with a new element. In addition to opening up new bilateral commercial opportunities, the FTA would also both facilitate the creation of new ties with global production and commercial networks and help to advance the trade policy interests of the EU in the Asia-Pacific region.
The economic cooperation already in place includes a number of bilateral agreements that provide a good basis for the future negotiations. However, given that Australia is a major agricultural and agri-food exporter globally, it is expected that, in the course of the negotiations, certain sensitive issues may be raised. The EU is committed to taking European agricultural sensitivities fully into consideration in its negotiating strategy, seeking to protect vulnerable sectors through specific provisions.
On 13 September 2017, the European Commission presented the draft negotiating directives for the FTA with Australia. This draft mandate, in line with the EU Court of Justice’s recent opinion on the EU-Singapore FTA, covers only those areas falling under the EU’s exclusive competence. Therefore, the prospective agreement could be concluded by the EU on its own and could be ratified at EU level only. The Commission aims to finalise the negotiations before the end of its mandate in late 2019.
Read the complete briefing on ‘EU-Australia free trade agreement – Moving towards the launch of talks‘ on the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.