Albo points finger at EU trade freeze
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Albo points finger at EU trade freeze

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese blamed the previous government, Scott Morrison, for wasting trade opportunities with Europe during a visit to the continent.

Mr. Albanese said Monday from Spain that Australia’s track record on climate change and a failed submarine deal with France had hampered Australia’s European relations.

The prime minister said he hopes to reach a free trade agreement with the European Union in the coming months.

Albo points finger over EU trade freeze out | Broome Advertiser

Mr. Albanese will attend a summit of NATO leaders in Madrid on Wednesday and meet Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on the eve of the event.

He said talks on a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union had stalled, with only one meeting in the past 12 months.

“It was clear that there were two impediments. One was Australia’s relationship with France and the collapse that had occurred recently, given France’s leading role in Europe,” he said.

“The second was Australia’s stance on climate change.”

Camera icon Mr. Albanese pointed fingers at the previous government’s policy of delaying trade talks with Europe. NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr. Albanese said Australia had become a “handbrake” for climate action by European and global standards, hampering Australia’s ability to build relationships with European leaders.

He noted that European leaders are considering sanctions in the form of tariffs and other levies on goods from countries that are not taking action against climate change.

“It was very clear that Australia’s changed position was noticed and welcomed,” said Mr. Albanese.

As a bloc, the European Union is Australia’s second-largest trading partner and third-largest export destination.

“The European economy is $24 trillion strong, and with more than 400 million people, this is a market where Australia can benefit from the progress of this trade deal,” said Mr. Albanian.

He said the Spanish Prime Minister, Mr. Sánchez, expressed his support for a free trade agreement between Australia and the EU, but further meetings with other leaders were needed.

Camera icon Mr. Albanese met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who he says supports a free trade agreement between Australia and the European Union. Delivered Credit: Delivered

Mr. Albanian and the Spanish Prime Minister spoke for over an hour on various topics, including the implications for Europe of the invasion of Ukraine.

“I think symptomatic of the strength of the relationship is that the Prime Minister has given Australia so much time in that bilateral meeting the day before hosting that NATO summit,” Mr. Albanese said.

Mr. Albanian also reiterated his condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and shared his commitment to European leaders to maintain international order.

He is scheduled to attend a royal gala dinner hosted by King Felipe VI of Spain ahead of the NATO summit.