Aussies to win in EU trade deal

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AUSTRALIAN consumers could buy cheaper European-made designer goods and wine while farmers could win massive new export

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Melbourne Food and Wine Festival 2016 Generic wine

AUSTRALIAN consumers could buy cheaper European-made designer goods and wine while farmers could win massive new export contracts under plans for a free trade deal with the EU to be completed within two years.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker used his annual State of the Union speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg to call for fast-tracked free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, saying he wanted the plans completed before he finishes his term in 2019.

“Today, we are asking that we open up negotiations with Australia and with New Zealand,” Mr Juncker said.

“I want all of these agreements to be finalised by the end of this mandate (in 2019). And I want them negotiated in the fullest transparency.”

The announcement is a snub to the UK government, which says it wants a quick free trade deal with Commonwealth countries including Australia soon after Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

In a further swipe at Britain, Mr Juncker said the EU was enjoying stronger economic growth and would become more united as a result of Brexit.

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Farmers could win massive new export contracts under plans for a free trade deal with the EU to be completed within two years. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

Declaring “the wind is back in Europe’s sails”, he called for measures like the trade deals to “make the most of the momentum”.

The European Commission president avoided mentioning Brexit until late in his hour long speech, when he described it as “a very sad and tragic moment in our history” that Britain would come to regret.

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has called for fast-tracked free trade deals with Australia and New Zealand. Source: Supplied

But he said he respected the views of UK voters who backed the divorce and insisted the EU would prosper without Britain as a member of the trading bloc.

“We will always regret this and I think that you will regret it as well soon if I might say,” he said.

“We will move on because Brexit isn’t everything. It is not the future of Europe. It is not the be all and end all.”

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European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his State of the Union speech. Picture: AFP Source: AFP

The comments come amid growing tensions between the EU and Britain over the terms of Brexit.

Negotiators for both sides have not been able to agree on a string of concerns including the divorce bill owed by the UK.

In his speech, Mr Juncker also rebuked Australia’s record on accepting refugees.

He praised Europe’s acceptance of people fleeing from wars in the Middle East, despite a backlash against migrants in many European nations.

“Last year alone, our Member States resettled or granted asylum to over 720,000 refugees — three times as much as the United States, Canada and Australia combined,” he said.

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    Article Aussies to win in EU trade deal compiled by www.news.com.au

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