Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, held a leaders’ meeting by video conference with Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia.
The leaders reconfirmed their resolve to work together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, and to take effective measures to protect health and build more innovative, sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies.
They reaffirmed their shared values and stressed their strong support for the international rules-based order and an effective multilateral system with the United Nations at its core.
The leaders reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring universal, equitable and early access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. Both sides have committed substantial funding to the almost €16 billion raised through the EU-led Coronavirus Global Response pledging marathon.
The leaders stressed the importance of continued international support for the Access to COVID-19 tools (ACT) Accelerator and its COVAX Facility. They agreed to strengthen bilateral research and innovation cooperation and to share research data to combat the pandemic.
The leaders welcomed the outcomes of the G20 summit on 21 and 22 November. The EU and Australia are stepping up cooperation on post-pandemic socio-economic recovery and are implementing the G20 Action Plan.
Underlining the importance of assisting the most vulnerable countries, including in Africa, the leaders welcomed the extension of the G20/Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the recently endorsed “Common Framework for Debt Treatment” beyond the DSSI.
The leaders agreed that the EU and Australia will continue to work together to strengthen the World Health Organization and global preparedness and response to health emergencies.
Free trade negotiations
The leaders noted good progress in the negotiations for an ambitious and comprehensive bilateral trade agreement. This will create growth opportunities, deepen economic integration and reinforce both parties’ shared support for rules-based trading arrangements.
Climate change and digital transformation
The leaders underlined their commitment to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement and to stepping up global action to tackle climate change in the lead up to COP26 in 2021.
The EU highlighted its commitment to achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Australia will demonstrate significant ambition on reducing emissions and pursuing a low emissions development strategy in order to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
The leaders also committed to accelerating digital transformation. Australia and the EU have initiated a digital economy and technology dialogue.
Global and regional issues
The EU and Australia will keep working together to reform and strengthen the World Trade Organization.
Both parties reaffirmed their commitment to developing by mid-2021 a global solution that addresses the tax challenges arising from the digitisation of the economy.
The leaders said they looked forward to strengthened cooperation in areas such as counterterrorism and prevention of radicalisation leading to violent extremism and terrorism.
They also discussed regional issues including the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula, Belarus and the eastern Mediterranean.
In May 2018, the Council adopted a decision authorising the opening of negotiations for a free trade agreement between the EU and Australia.
The bilateral relations of both parties are enshrined in the EU-Australia Framework Agreement. It was signed in August 2017 and has been provisionally applied since then.