ANU to train government and industry for EU trade talks

30 September 2016

A European Union expert at ANU will train Australian public servants and businesses about how the European Union works, in the lead up to negotiations on a possible Australia-EU free trade agreement.

Dr Annmarie Elijah from the ANU Centre for European Studies (CES) was awarded the Jean Monnet Project grant of $73,000 by the European Commission to conduct the training over 12 months starting in March 2017.

"It's a first for the ANU," Dr Elijah said.

"Not only does it squarely fit with my research into sub-national actors in trade, it also clearly builds on the work we do in the centre."

"It's also a recognition that we enhance understanding of the EU, which is a complicated entity."

Dr Elijah said it was vital that federal, state and territory public servants understood the EU ahead of the negotiations about a possible Australia-EU free trade agreement.

"The EU does not operate like a normal government. These issues are topical. It became clear with the vote for Brexit that the EU is not easy for people to understand. The ANUCES can unpack that for people."

Dr Elijah said the Federal Government engaged regularly with the EU, but this was not as common with the states and territories.

"These parties will need to understand this process so our project will involve, in part, training them before they participate," she said.

Dr Elijah is delivering the training with Professor Carsten Daugbjerg from the ANU Crawford School and Ms Anne McNaughton from the ANU College of Law.  

Professor Daugbjerg and Ms McNaughton will help facilitate an in-depth one-day conference at ANU in March, the first activity the team has planned.

"The conference will be a high-level gathering of people who already have a background in the EU, and we'll build on that," Dr Elijah said.

"We will then take a half-day version of that to all the states and territories between March 2017 and March 2018, reviewing it as we go to ensure we're meeting attendees' needs."

ANUCES will renovate its website to provide additional information and resources related to EU trade.

Professor Jacqueline Lo, Executive Director of CES and College of Arts and Social Sciences Associate Dean (International), said she was incredibly proud of Dr Elijah's success in securing the European Commission grant for the training program.

"It is perfectly timed to inform debate ahead of the proposed EU-Australia trade negotiations, and it builds on the Centre's considerable expertise in training Australian public servants," Professor Lo said.

"The project expands our training audience to state and territory governments and industry stakeholders."