A comprehensive agreement between New Zealand and the European Union is getting closer, with the exploratory stage of discussions expected to be completed in six months, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said today.
Mr McCully has been in Stockholm for his six-monthly consultations with the EU Presidency, which concluded yesterday.
"We have made very good progress in the exploratory discussions, and I expect that process to be complete by the second half of 2010.
"I am hopeful we will then secure agreement to enter more formal talks about a comprehensive agreement between New Zealand and the EU.
"The agreement by Prime Minister John Key and Commission President Jose Manuel Barosso last February to commence exploratory talks set the scene for the very positive round of discussions we have just had," Mr McCully said.
The next formal EU-New Zealand consultations are scheduled to take place in Madrid in June.