Monday

26th Feb 2024

EU hits back at Australia in trade tiff

  • Protectionism in farming is the main sticking point for both the US and the EU (Photo: EUobserver)

The war of words over last month's collapse of the world trade negotiations is continuing with the EU reacting angrily to remarks that it did not offer enough to save the talks and accusing Australia of "Europe bashing".

"At the moment we hear from some quarters of the Australian government a lot of bashing of Europe," EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson told Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

Instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Until we see everyone, all the negotiating partners, being asked to table and to demonstrate some sort of flexibility, we're really going to be no further forward," he added.

The commissioner also accused Australia - which has a free trade agreement with the United States - of taking Washington's side by not criticising the US' position in the talks enough.

"I think the Australian government as a friend, close friend and ally of the United States really has got to be ... has got to show some realism or get the United States to show some realism on farm subsidies," he told ABC radio.

"If we heard as much messaging to the United States on the farm subsidies as we in Europe hear from Australia on market access in agriculture, then I think that Australia's approach would be considered a bit more balanced", he added.

Mr Mandelson's remarks were in response to Australian trade minister Mark Vaile's comments last week that Europe's offer to cut agricultural tariffs "would make very little difference".

Mr Vaile's remarks appeared to harden the bad feeling since the WTO talks on liberalising trade collapsed with the EU now unlikely to attend a meeting next month organised by Australia to try and revive the round.

Mr Mandelson said the meeting - to which WTO chief Pascal Lamy and US trade negotiators have also been invited - was "not a priority" for the EU.

Mandelson's criticism not helping

Australian foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer said the trade commissioner's criticism of Australia's role would not help the WTO talks.

"The European Union has not been prepared significantly to improve its market access offer for agricultural products," Mr Downer said.

"And for as long as it refuses to increase its market access offer, well then, we're not going to get a settlement to this problem", he added, according to the Associated Press.

This round of trade talks, begun in Doha in 2001, was supposed to break down the barriers to world trade and help lift millions out of poverty.

But the round almost immediately fell behind its deadlines and broke off in acrimony last month with the EU and US publicly trading spats about the others' inflexibility.

Australia slams EU for trade talks fiasco

Australia has slammed the EU for playing a major role in the collapse last month of international talks on liberalising world trade. Meanwhile, the EU has rejected Australia's invitation to talks in September aimed at reviving the negotiations.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.

EU's €723bn Covid recovery fund saw growth, but doubts remain

The €723bn Covid-19 recovery fund, launched three years ago, has been a success, according to a mid-term internal review — but less effective than initially predicted. And according to one NGO, the commission painted an "overly positive picture".

France's Le Maire 'goes German' with austerity budget

The French government announced €10bn in further spending cuts. However, defence spending is set to increase significantly, up to €413bn from €295bn, while €400m was cut from a fund meant for renovating schools, carpooling infrastructure, and other environmental projects.

Opinion

After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports

Two years of tragedies, with well over 100,000 Russian war crimes now registered, underscore the urgent need to stop international LNG investments in Russia that continue to fund Vladimir Putin's war chest.

Latest News

  1. Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices
  2. Luxembourg denies blind spot on Nato security vetting
  3. Record rate-profits sees EU banks give shareholders €120bn
  4. Why the EU silence on why Orban's €10bn was unblocked?
  5. Far-right MEPs least disciplined in following party line
  6. More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK
  7. EU rewards Tusk's Poland on rule of law with €137bn
  8. UK-EU relations defrosting ahead of near-certain Labour win

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us