Rainy season has set in – there was already urgent need for water. Compared to Europe temperature in Seoul has been rather lenient – the sweltering heat in Europe, forest fires in the Arctic are just more signs of climate change. We should not postpone action any further! 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.
Europe Day 2019 celebrations on May 9 focused on the 30th anniversary of the Jean Monnet Chairs and Networks of Excellence – the five chairs at Korea University, Seoul National University, Yonsei University, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies and Pusan National University did a great joint work in organising a seminar on Jean Monnet, which was widely appreciated, and the many young people enjoying themselves was the best proof for the importance of people-to-people contacts in diplomacy.
Diplomacy on the Korean Peninsula got stuck and bad habits of the past settle in again – test of short and medium term missiles are detrimental to building trust and in breach of the UNSC Resolutions. It is also unfortunate that the separation of economics and politics, the 'Asian Paradox', has crumbled because of the return of geo-politics and geo-economics.
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 third largest trading partner and the largest investor in Korea. Concerning the import of European (e.g. Danish and Dutch) beef we made progress and I hope to buy it in September. We expect now that the products from other countries will follow quickly and without further delay. The Korean Government moved forward with presenting a bill for implementing the ILO Conventions, a panel of independent experts is being convened to offer recommendations and facilitate the process. In the economic area, the Gateway Business Mission program continues attracting European SMEs to Korea; after the successful show of Contemporary European Design companies we are looking forward to welcome back Environment and Water Technology companies in the week of September 23 at COEX.
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; the EU will host a high level connectivity conference in September in Brussels.
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.
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Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Korea