Friday 19 Jul 2019 | 08:18 | SYDNEY
Friday 19 Jul 2019 | 08:18 | SYDNEY

Our 'bilateral' relations with the EU


Sam Roggeveen


22 May 2008 10:48

A question for readers: why did Trade Minister Simon Crean refer to our relationship with the EU as 'bilateral' in a radio interview this morning? Obviously, we don't talk about our relations with other multinational bodies like the UN or ASEAN this way. I realise the EU has a different status to those bodies, but does it mean that EU members have surrendered all trade authority to the EU? Would it be impossible, for instance, for Australia to have a free trade agreement with France?

UPDATE: Mark Thirwell writes, 'yes, EU trade policy is run by the European Commission for all members. The EU is a single market, with common external tariff etc – so you couldn’t have a France-Australia FTA.  Hence UK accession in 1973 marked the end of imperial preference, and prompted some accusations of ‘betrayal’ from Australia (since Australian exports went from benefitting from positive discrimination under UK trade policy to suffering negative discrimination from European trade policy).'