EU-AUS Leadership Forum

The relationship between Australia and the European Union is long, strong and well established. The EU-Australia Leadership Forum will build on the hard work that has already gone into building and sustaining the bilateral relationship that has gone before. One of the first formal bilateral agreements—it is kind of weird calling it a bilateral agreement, given it is between a multilateral outfit and a nation—entered into by the EU and Australia was a joint declaration on relations in 1997.

The declaration was based on principles of flexibility, practicality and mutual interest. A new agreement called the Australia-EU Partnership Framework was developed in 2008 and focused on practical cooperation in the areas of foreign and security policy interests, the trade-investment relationship, the Asia-Pacific region, climate change, science and innovation, education, culture and facilitating the movement of people. This framework was in place for more than 10 years and sustained the relationship between the EU and Australia.

In 2015, the government signed the Australia-EU Framework Agreement along with the Australia-EU Crisis Management Agreement. The framework agreement formalises the existing relationship and the previous agreement from 2008 in a formal treaty-level agreement. The Australia-EU Crisis Management Agreement formalises the existing framework for Australia's participation in EU crisis management operations. Australia is already a willing participant in some of the EU's activities. We have provided Australian personnel to support the EU's maritime operations in the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Based on the treaty-level agreements and the longer term bilateral relationship between the EU and Australia, the EU-Australia Leadership Forum will only serve to strengthen these existing ties. The core of the leadership forum is the EU-Australia Senior Leaders' Forum—a high-level event that will be held annually, alternating between Australia one year and Europe the next. The senior leaders forum brings together European and Australian leaders from a variety of policy areas to provide input and ideas to diversity and develop the relationship further in key areas.

One of the security areas that I expect to gather interest and momentum in the leadership forum is cybersecurity. As we heard from the previous member, it is not just the senior leaders who will be meeting to discuss issues but the emerging leaders as well, and I am hoping that the discussion at both those fora will highlight the fact that we have to have an ongoing deep and meaningful discussion on cybersecurity, particularly cybercrime. While experts in international law grapple with the constructs of jurisdiction and how the state should respond to cyber operations against it, particularly how it should respond against non-state actors, what we are seeing is that not every cyber activity will be a significant attack aimed at destroying or damaging infrastructure. As an increasing number of sectors and industries move their operations and data online, the risk that key information could be accessed and exposed or held to ransom is a global risk. How different governments and business sectors respond to the risk—the detection and response frameworks they put in place—is becoming an important consideration for the globalised trading and investment environment.

These types of cybercrime activities—access, exposure, and sale and ransom of information—are not necessarily state controlled but can be undertaken by an individual or organisation or a non-state actor. Where this occurs, the usual response options the state has available to it may not apply. The crime may be a domestic crime but not an international crime. So how can the issue of justice apply in these areas? It is very, very complex, Deputy Speaker. Just last week I was at the launch of the Tallinn Manual 2.0, doing a broad examination of the legal framework and environment that we are working in with regard to cyber and trying to work out where international law applies, where domestic law applies and where the gaps exist. It is incredibly challenging, and some of the world's greatest international legal minds have been put to that task.

The first emerging leaders forum will be held in June this year in Sydney. I understand there is a competitive process for people to apply to be part of the forum and I encourage many of our young policy professionals here in Canberra to apply and be part of this exciting new program. Applications close on 12 March—so there is not much time—and further information can be found at the EU-Australia Leadership Forum website. Canberrans, if you want to engage in multilateral policy discussion on cybersecurity, sign up.

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