Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - 00:49

The 2018 EU-Australia Leadership Forum took place in Brussels from 18-22 November. For five days, senior and emerging leaders from the EU and Australia shared their expertise on topics such as trade, environment, data protection, science, women in leadership and more. Participants also discussed ideas for deepening the already strong bilateral relationship.

Following is a summary of highlights from the event, which was designed to enhance cooperation between Australia and the EU.

Day one: Emerging Leaders Welcome Reception

An informal welcome reception for Emerging Leaders was held in the library of the Steigenberger Wiltcher’s Hotel. Participants, some of them still bleary-eyed from the long journey, had a chance to meet with fellow Emerging Leaders and with project staff and find out more about the days ahead.

Day two: Emerging Leaders Forum

The Emerging Leaders Forum program officially commenced with opening remarks from Dr Bryce Wakefield (Team Leader, EU-Australia Leadership Forum Project), His Excellency Dr Michael Pulch (European Union Ambassador to Australia) and His Excellency Justin Brown (Australian Ambassador to the European Union).

This was followed by an energetic keynote speech from Luis Alvarado Martinez, President of the European Youth Forum and member of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee for the EU-Australia Leadership Forum.

During the following two panel discussions, expert guest speakers shared their expertise on different dimensions of the EU-Australia relationship. 


The afternoon was dedicated to workshops on movement of people, environment, climate change and energy transition, industry 4.0 and women’s leadership in the EU and Australia.

The day closed with a networking dinner which provided the emerging leaders with the opportunity to further discuss the issues raised during the day and to forge friendships.

Day three: Emerging Leaders Forum, Welcome Reception for Emerging and Senior Leaders and Gala Dinner

In the morning, Emerging Leaders participated in workshops on the topics of Risk of war, Space Cooperation, Civil Society in the EU-Australia relationship and digitalisation.

The evening featured a welcome reception for senior and emerging leaders, generously hosted by the Australian Ambassador to the European Union. 

After the reception we were delighted to welcome Herman Van Rompuy as special guest speaker at the Gala Dinner. The event was attended by a wide range of high-level representatives from both Australia and the EU. 

A copy of Mr Van Rompuy's remarks are available here.

Day four: Senior and Emerging Leaders Forum

Day four of the program featured a powerful keynote address from Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Vice-President of the European Commission, on the close ties between Australia and the EU. A full video of her address is available here. 

Following this, the day was dedicated to panel discussions where emerging and senior leaders shared their insight on topics such as challenges to the rules-based international order, current dynamics in western democracy, economics and trade, and future trends.

A networking event was held that evening at the Brussels Town Hall and was followed by Nightcap discussions in the library.

Day five: Senior and Emerging Leaders Forum

The final day of the program commenced with a breakfast event on the topic of challenges to the EU-Australia relationship. The keynote speaker at the breakfast event was Elmar Brok, Chair of the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee. 

This was followed by roundtable discussions on the key themes of the forum. 

The event closed following a farewell lunch at which Christian Leffler, Deputy Secretary General Economic and Global Issues European External Action Service, delivered a keynote address.

We would like to thank all our esteemed speakers, senior leaders and emerging leaders for their active participation and for sharing their expertise.

The video below shows highlights from the 2018 EU-Australia Leadership Forum, as well as reflections from some of those who took part.

More information: