History of the Delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand (DANZ)

The Delegation for relations with Australia and New Zealand (DANZ) was created in 1979, after the first direct elections to the European Parliament.

The European Union has strong historical and cultural ties with Australia and with New Zealand, and the partners share a similar approach to a broad range of international challenges such as their opposition to protectionism, the death penalty and climate change.

Two years after the DANZ delegation was formed, it held its first inter-parliamentary meetings abroad. The following inter-parliamentary meetings, in 1982 (with Australia), 1983 (Australia) and 1985 (Australia and New Zealand), were all held in Strasbourg.

The delegation has aimed to maintain an annual schedule: visiting every year, if possible, one of the partner countries and hosting a visit from a partner's delegation.

While that has not always been possible, the DANZ delegation has nonetheless sustained one of the most regular exchanges of any European parliament delegation: 37 official meetings between EU and Australian representatives, and 21 between the EU and New Zealand, have been held so far.

Focus of bilateral relations

Relations between the EU and the two countries have also been underpinned by trade, with an impressive expansion of political and economic links in recent years.

The partners have cooperated closely on challenges such as security and counter-terrorism, development aid, stability in the Asia-Pacific region, energy, the environment and climate change.

There are annual consultations between the foreign ministers and among senior officials, as well as a range of sectorial dialogues covering areas such as trade, agriculture and the environment.

The delegation's visits

Visits to Australia and New Zealand have regularly brought MEPs to the EU centres of excellence in the two countries. There delegation members provide overviews of developments in the EU to university staff and students.

In Australia, the Delegation has always travelled beyond the Australian Capital Territory to visit one of the federal states and meet local government officials to discuss issues that concern the state and the EU. In 2016, for example, the delegation went to Western Australia to see and discuss the impact of climate change and the slowdown of the world economy on this very resource-rich state.

The focal point of these trips, however, remains the exchanges with members of parliament. During these discussions, topics have regularly included trade and economic issues, agriculture, migration, energy, climate change and the environment, development, economic cooperation, terrorism, human rights, science and technology, and global and regional security.

Meetings in the European Parliament

The delegation's solid connections with counterparts in Australia and New Zealand have also informed its regular meetings in Brussels and Strasbourg.

At home, the delegation invites experts to its regular meetings, and contributes to ongoing discussions about new agreements between the partners: an EU-Australia Framework Agreement being considered by the Parliament, and the current work on bilateral free trade agreements between the EU and the two countries.