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DANZ: Delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand

The Delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand cultivates the European Parliament's strong relations with two countries that have emerged as like-minded partners on the other side of the world.

Though more than 16,000 kilometres separate Brussels from Canberra and from Wellington, parliamentarians have developed a regular rhythm of meetings: there have been 37 official encounters between EU and Australian representatives, and 21 between the EU and New Zealand.

In addition, the delegation has contributed to discussions about new agreements between the EU and the two countries. Regular delegation meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg offer stakeholders and experts an important venue for expressing their opinions and insights.

Additional topics in the delegation's agenda cover agriculture, energy, the environment and climate change, development and economic cooperation, science and technology, trade, the promotion of global and regional security in the Asia-Pacific region, countering terrorism, and human rights.

Composition

The DANZ delegation counts 12 full members, as well as a number of substitute members.

MEP Ulrike Müller, a German member of the Parliament's Group of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, is currently the delegation's chair. The two vice-chairs are Axel Voss and Jacqueline Foster.

The chair and vice-chairs are elected by the other members of the delegation, while the members are nominated by the Parliament's political groups. The political balance of the delegation mirrors that of the Parliament as a whole.

EU agreements with the countries

The EU and Australia signed a "Partnership Framework" in 2008.

This is likely to be replaced by a new bilateral "Framework Agreement", which the two partners agreed on in 2016. The European Parliament will need to consent to this agreement for it to go into effect, and the Foreign Affairs Committee is currently preparing a report on the pact.

A bilateral agreement between New Zealand and the EU was also recently updated, with a "Partnership Agreement on Relations and Cooperation" signed in October 2016.

Both documents acknowledge the links that have been between the partners' legislatures and the European Parliament.

The Australian agreement states:

"Dialogue between the Parties shall particularly take place in [...] exchanges of delegations and other contacts between the Parliament of Australia and the European Parliament."

The New Zealand agreement includes a similar mention:

"Dialogue between the Parties shall take place through contacts, exchanges and consultations at any level, particularly in [...] exchanges of delegations between European Parliament and the New Zealand Parliament."

Free trade agreement

The EU and the two countries have also agreed to work on creating bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) - an EU-Australia agreement, and another EU-New Zealand agreement. Over the course of a year, the partners discussed the areas the FTA would cover. This was followed by the European Commission's evaluation of the impact of the agreement on the EU. The next step entails the EU's Member States' authorisation of formal negotiations (through a mandate from the EU Council).

After any agreement has been worked out, it cannot go into effect unless the European Parliament agrees (the "consent procedure"). This means that the Parliament's position will matter deeply to the partners, and that the Parliament should be informed throughout the process.

With its connections to Australia and New Zealand, the DANZ delegation is well placed to discuss the FTA and offer its input to Parliament's committees. The Delegation has regularly organised meetings on trade issues, inviting stakeholders and experts to offer their views.