Australia’s Engagement with the European Union: Partnership Choices and Critical Friends
This article examines the development of Australia’s relationship with the European Union (EU) by focusing on drivers and obstacles. Underlying the relationship are the burden of memory and common interests and values. It argues that, although the past still resonates, the changes to the range and depth of interests and values have resulted in a more fruitful engagement. It suggests that a history of a negatively framed context of engagement, characterised by Australian critiques of the EU and, in turn, by EU neglect of the relationship, has contributed to distance between the two interlocutors. It is only in recent years that this distance has been bridged and perceptions have changed. Australia has chosen partnerships with the EU that enhance its economic and political choices. Links with a long-term partner, the UK, are being recast as Brexit presents a new challenge at a time of Australia’s stronger engagement with the EU through a key agreement and trade talks. Finally, the article argues that Australia and the EU are critical friends.