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Presented by Dr Gerhard Sabathil Director, North East Asia and the Pacific, European External Action Service, Brussels.
At the beginning of the 21st century, both Australia and the EU assign extreme importance to the Asian Region. The Australian Government will soon issue a White Paper called 'Australia in the Asian Century'; the EU has already four of its strategic partners in the Asian continent, and conducting biennial high level dialogues with all Asian countries. Both the EU and Australia seem to be often facing the same challenge of pulling their weight fully at the global geopolitical scene, and in Asia in particular. The 'Asian century' is clearly a common denominator for EU's and Australia's foreign policies, but the underlying reasons and tools to address the current issues in the region - be it environment, conflict prevention, product safety, energy, climate change, disaster preparedness, emergency aid, post-crisis reconstruction, policing assistance, maritime security or counter-terrorism - are of a more diverse nature.
Dr Sabathil is in Australia to conduct the 4th round of the EU–Australia negotiations aimed at concluding a legally binding Framework Agreement. In addition to his career with the European Commission, Dr Sabathil has been guest Professor at the University of Prague since 1996, is a member of several boards of NGOs and author of many articles, both in the field of Foreign and European Policy.