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EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement: The Collapse and What's Next

Discover why the EU-Australia Free Trade Agreement talks collapsed and what it means for both parties. Dive into the details of the negotiations.

In pursuit of a trade agreement between the European Union and Australia, Don Farrell, the Trade Minister of Australia, announced that the ongoing discussions between Australia and the European Union regarding a trade agreement have not yielded a positive outcome.

30 October 2023

"I came to Osaka with the intention to finalise a free trade agreement with the European Union. Since I became Trade Minister, I have been to Europe three times to progress a deal that benefits Australia’s national interest. My job as Australia’s Trade Minister is to get the best deal that we can for our producers, our businesses, our workers, and our consumers. Unfortunately we have not been able to make progress. Negotiations will continue, and I am hopeful that one day we will sign a deal that benefits both Australia and our European friends."

Australian Minister for Trade and Tourism, Special Minister of State, Senator the Hon Don Farrell

What happened to the EU-Australia FTA negotiations?

We understand that the G7 trade ministers' meeting in Japan at the end of October 2023 was considered the last opportunity for the two parties to resolve any remaining disagreements through discussions.

Positions apart

Both sides, however, were at loggerheads:

  • The European Commission had expressed dissatisfaction with the limited progress made during the talks held in Osaka. Furthermore, it is said that the Australian side reintroduced the agricultural demands, but these demands did not accurately represent the recent negotiations and discussions held by senior officials.

  • Australia had expressed its discontent with the proposed agreement, thinking that the proposal did not sufficiently facilitate access to the European Union market for their agricultural goods.

Demands not met

The Australian agricultural sector faces a pressing need for enhanced access to the vast European market for beef, sugar, and sheep meat. The EU aims to negotiate an agreement allowing them to access Australia's plentiful strategic mineral resources more effectively.

Opportunity missed?

The EU Says that a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement between the European Union and Australia may have resulted in a rough one-third increase in trade of goods and services between the two parties.

The objective of the trade negotiations was to:

Eliminate obstacles and assist European Union & Australian enterprises, particularly those of smaller scale, to enhance their export capabilities.

Ensure that companies engaging in trade in both markets are granted the same privileges as those from nations that have entered into trade agreements, e.g. such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership or other similar arrangements with Australia.

Propose comprehensive measures on trade and sustainable development, demonstrating a collective dedication to upholding labour rights and safeguarding the environment (including addressing climate change) within trade agreements.

Safeguard unique food and beverage products from Australia or the specific EU regions against counterfeits in Australia.


EU-Australia FTA
Download PDF • 2.91MB

EU-Australia agreement: Documents

  • Negotiating directives (EU Council document)

Impact assessments

  • (2017) Ex ante Impact Assessment Report and its executive summary (done before negotiations started)

  • (2021) Sustainable Impact Assessment and related Commission Services Position Paper (done in parallel to the negotiations)

Round reports

  • Report of round 15, April 2023

  • Report of round 14, February 2023

  • Report of round 13, October 2022

  • Report of round 12, February 2022

  • Report of round 11, June 2021

  • Report of round 10, March 2021

  • Report of round 9, December 2020

  • Report of round 8, October 2020

  • Report of round 7, May 2020

  • Report of round 6, February 2020

  • Report of round 5, October 2019

  • Report of round 4, July 2019

  • Report of round 3, April 2019

  • Report of round 2, December 2018

  • Report of round 1, July 2018

Initial text proposals tabled by the EU side

  • Preamble

  • Initial provisions

  • Trade in goods

Trade in goods
Download PDF • 182KB

  • Rules of origin and origin procedures

Rules of origin and origin procedures
Download PDF • 429KB
  • Customs and trade facilitation

Customs and trade facilitation
Download PDF • 309KB

  • Mutual administrative assistance in customs matters

  • Anti-fraud

  • Technical Barriers to Trade

  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues

Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues
Download PDF • 342KB

  • Trade remedies

Trade remedies
Download PDF • 138KB

  • Services and investment

  • Capital movements

  • Digital trade

  • Intellectual property

  • Public procurement

  • Anti-competitive conduct, merger control and subsidies

  • State-owned enterprises

  • Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
Download PDF • 237KB

  • Sustainable development

  • Energy and raw materials

  • Transparency

  • Good regulatory practices

  • Dispute settlement (DS)

    • Code of conduct for panellists and mediators

    • Rules of procedure

  • General Exceptions

  • Institutional provisions

  • Final provisions

Next Steps

According to Farrell, if a consensus is not reached before heading to Osaka, it would be required to wait until the next European Commission is chosen after the European elections in June.

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