More about the EU


The European Union is a values based society ruled by law, built on a firm belief of universal human rights, peace and reconciliation and in democratic, political, social and economic standards. Its work was recognised by the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012.

The EU is the largest economic bloc in the world, home to over 500 million citizens, and has become a truly global player in promoting its values and interests to make the world a better and safer place.

In today's world – with spreading prosperity and shifting power - the 28 countries of the EU are providing, together - some answers to the many others challenges we face. Without Europe it would be difficult to imagine the WTO, the International Court of Justice, the global fight against climate change and poverty, or the G-20.

Together, the European Union’s 28 Member States make up the world’s largest trader in goods and services (accounting for 16% of global trade), being both the largest exporter (US$3.2 trillion) and importer (US$2.9 trillion) last year. It is also the world's leading foreign direct investor and recipient of foreign direct investment.

The EU and its MS together provide more than half of the world's development and humanitarian aid.

Sometimes the EU's role is not properly understood because we promote our value and interests with "soft power". The most ambitious trade liberating agenda pursued by the EU, the negotiations the EU is leading on behalf of the international community on Iran's nuclear programme, [the key role in ensuring the maritime capacities in the Horn of Africa], or the unprecedented measures – including sanctions – the EU has adopted in the Ukraine crisis are concrete examples of the way we operate to promote peace and prosperity around the world.


Australia and the EU are bound by deep and strong relations between two likeminded partners – built on a common cultural heritage, converging interests and shared values.

The on-going commemorations of the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, and especially the Anzac operation, remind us that we shall never forget how much Australia and New Zealand invested in Europe's freedom and how many young lives were lost on European soil.

The EU is the largest investor in Australia and its second trade partner - the first in services. In the run-up to the G-20 Brisbane Summit we have stepped up our cooperation on the most important topics to promote international trade, reform of financial international institutions, and fair taxation.


Foreign policy is not just about summits and meetings between governments; it is also about perception and understanding.

It is particularly important for the European Union to be fully understood as a unique project in continuous evolution.

That is why back in 1998 the European Union launched a pilot programme to set up a network of Centres to inform host countries about the European Union and promote its policies.

Since then, the project has grown and 39 EU Centres have been established around the world with European Union support.

Over the years this programme has also attracted increasing interest in Australia and New Zealand. Their success emerges also from the figures in their final reports recently released. Over the last 2010 – 2014 period the Centres have collectively undertaken over 300 Conferences, seminars, lectures, roundtables with more than 20,000 attendees. They have produced over 50 briefing papers on varying topics; they have welcomed over 200 visiting fellows from around the world and have taught literally hundreds of students from undergraduates to PhDs.

In Australia and New Zealand there are now six EU funded Centres whose term will run until July 2017. With an investment of over EUR4.6million over 3 years these Centres represent one of the largest public diplomacy projects in Australia and probably the largest EU single network below the equator.

The Centres play a key role in promoting greater understanding of the EU and stronger relations between the EU and Australia and New Zealand. They work together with the EU and its Member States. They reach out beyond the academic world to engage with local communities, business, civil society, government, the media and cultural communities.