A few days ago we changed three photos in our office: The new EU leadership with President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, President of the European Council and the new EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell took up their functions.
The announcement of the European Green Deal only a few days later is a clear sign that climate change is on the top of the priority list, not only in Europe but worldwide. Therefore we seek the energetic cooperation of Korea in setting (more) ambitious goals to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 the latest. The recurrent fine dust cloud all over Korea serves as a wakeup call and motivates citizens to demand concrete actions to remedy the situation and not just palliative measures. The EU-Korea Climate Action aiming to assist non-government actors in Europe and Korea to work together and to push governments into action is timely and seeks public support.
Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula is still in high demand as tensions rise: In addition to missiles tests a new war of words seems to be brewing with the return of "rocket man" and the "dotard". DPRK officials are saying they have nothing to lose while President Trump is warning they have everything to lose. A comprehensive and multilateral approach might help to overcome the stalemate and prevent that the clock turns back to 2017.
The EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement remains a guarantee for the rules based approach to international trade which the EU champions in its drive to foster multilateralism. After all, the EU is Korea's fourth largest trading partner and the largest investor in Korea. At a media conference when the European Chamber of Commerce I presented its yearly White Book with proposals on how to improve the business climate in Korea I underlined again that we should modernise the FTA in the interest of Korean and European companies, a message which was picked up by Minister Yoo. Concerning the long simmering problem of import of European beef I could finally taste Dutch veal – we have to accelerate to offer the Korean consumer the choice to buy European beef, pork and poultry products. We continue the Gateway Business Mission program – not surprisingly the last one featuring organic food and drinks was a great success.
In implementing security cooperation in and with Asia we encourage Korea to continue its participation in the operation ATALANTA, assuring safety for the shipping lanes of the coast of Somalia, even if other challenges arise.
The Connectivity strategy covering infrastructure for all modes of transport, energy as well as people are part of our comprehensive approach to security. I hope to reach an agreement with Korea on Connectivity Partnership in 2020; the New Southern and Northern Policy ties well with this project.
Supporting multilateralism, fostering rule of law remain the underlying policies, not least to preserve a cooperative liberal international order from which we have and continue to profit in terms of economics and security. In times of mounting protectionism and populism the EU-Korea Strategic Partnership is challenged to deliver on these global commons in mutual interest.
In 2020 we will have the EU-Korea Summit in Seoul where leaders will have the possibility to further improve an already productive and close partnership.
I wish all the readers happy holidays, all the best for 2020 and stay tuned with us in checking this website and our social media accounts Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Naver Blog. If you want to receive our newsletter, please click here. Furthermore, you are welcome to follow my personal impressions on Twitter and Instagram.
Merry Christmas and Happy 2020!