A European Union expert at The Australian National University (ANU) has won a €49,000 (A$73,000) grant to train Australian public servants and businesses about how the EU works.
Dr Annmarie Elijah, Associate Director of the ANU Centre for European Studies (CES), received a Jean Monnet Project grant from the European Commission.
“It’s a first for the ANU and not only does it squarely fit with my research into sub-national actors in trade, it also clearly builds on the work we do in the centre,” she says.
“It’s also a recognition from the EU that we enhance understanding of the institution which is a very complicated entity.
“It’s not like a normal government and it’s very topical. For example with Brexit, EU relationships and politics are not easy things to understand. So what the CES can do is unpack that for people.”
Dr Elijah adds that it’s vital federal, state and territory public servants understand the EU ahead of the start of negotiations about a possible Australia-EU free trade agreement.
“The EU likes to involve sub-national parties, for example, state governments, and they just did this with Canada as we saw them involving Canada’s provinces in their trade deal,” she says.
“The Federal Government engages regularly with the EU, but this is not so much the case with the states and territories.
“These parties will need to understand this process, so our project will involve, in part, training them before they participate.”
Dr Elijah applied for the grant in anticipation of the looming Australia-EU trade negotiations and the opportunity to help train businesses and public servants.
She has two collaborators in the training project – Professor Carsten Daugbjerg from the Crawford School in the College of Asia and the Pacific, and Anne McNaughton, ANU College of Law.
Professor Daugbjerg and Ms McNaughton will be heavily involved with the first activity the team has planned: a full-day, in-depth conference at the ANU.
“It will be a high-level gathering of people who already have a background in the EU, and we’ll build on that,” Dr Elijah says.
“I will then take a half-day version of that to all the states and territories between March 2017 and March 2018, reviewing it as we go to ensure we’re meeting attendees’ needs.”
The project will also mean an update to the Centre’s website to include additional information and resources on EU trade.
Centre Executive Director and College of Arts and Social Sciences Associate Dean (International), Professor Jacqueline Lo, says she is incredibly proud of Dr Elijah’s success in securing the grant, upon which the CES plans to build in forthcoming rounds.
“It is perfectly timed to inform debate ahead of the proposed EU-Australia trade negotiations, and it builds on the Centre’s considerable expertise in training government, such as Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade staff and other Australian Public Service officers,” Professor Lo says.
“The project expands our training audience to state and territory governments and industry stakeholders”.