EU-Australia Relationship: On the Swiss Track

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    • Presentation speakers
      • Adel Dellagi, Triangle Research Unit, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lyon, France


    Over the past decade, an increasing number of agreements and joint declarations in various areas have been signed between Australia and the European Union (EU). This is an indicator on the strengthening of their relationship on many aspects including trade and economic cooperation. The vault key of this bilateral rapprochement has been formalized with the EU-Australia Partnership Framework, adopted on 29 October 2008 in Paris. Although the substance of this bilateral roadmap is mostly based on trade and economic matters, further concerns such as global and regional challenges, security and human trafficking issues have been gradually inserted in the common agenda. For instance, coping with energy issues and facilitating the movement of people have been among the topics on which a particular focus has been made. Hence, from a quantitative trade relationship, the EU-Australia interests are switching slowly into a more global and political interaction. Another country, Switzerland, has been precursor to the latter, showing the path to sharing global and political issues. This paper will thus address specifically these issues of foreign and global security interests on both freedom of movement and border control domain through the lens of the Schengen model. As a ‘normative power’, the EU is known to spread its norms and values through assistance tools among its close partners whether they are meant to become EU members or entitled to the privileged position of European Neighborhood Policy recipients (Near-East, North Africa, Middle-East). Not only are these conditional tools put in place to provide economic boost to the target countries but they are also strategically implemented to raise the political standards up to a common level between the parties. While this strategy has been a relative success, the same conditions could not apply to close developed partners such as Australia. Indeed, unlike the (then) developing countries of the 10+2 enlargement and the current beneficiaries of the Neighborhood European Policy, Australia is one the most advanced countries in terms of development and does not require conditional or assistance tools from the European Union. However, there is room for deeper cooperation on political and strategic goals that the EU and Australia should emphasize on through equal bilateral agreements. Another country is in a similar position, with a step forward though on the political cooperation: Switzerland. As a matter of fact, Switzerland shares the same overall characteristics with Australia: a developed country with democratic institutions, an advanced economy with a low unemployment rate and last but not least strong historical ties with the European Union and its members. We will explore in this paper how the European Union is able to foster tighter relations with an external partner through practical and efficient cooperation such as the Schengen Convention. In the first part, the case of Switzerland will demonstrate the importance of this convergence of interests on security cooperation, border control domain but also on freedom of movement. The second part will bring the light on the Schengen Convention and the underlying rules and assumptions behind it in an attempt to explain its success. More than a basic treaty-based approach, we will see how Schengen turns to be a ‘culture’ transgressing the sole limits of geographic Europe. Finally, the last part will briefly draw a picture of the current EU-Australia situation in relation to the Swiss example making case of a deeper political relation between Australia and the European Union.