Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Korea

EU Delegation to RoK Newsletter, May 2021

31/05/2021 - 07:55
EU Delegation to South Korea - Newsletter

Happy June! Welcome to the monthly/bimonthly newsletter of the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Korea. Following are the news and activities from the EU Delegation to the RoK for the April-May period.

Gen. Claudio Graziano, chairman of the EU Military Committee Visits Seoul

Gen. Claudio Graziano, chairman of the EU Military Committee, visited South Korea on 7 April - 9 April at the invitation of the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The committee consists of the military chiefs of the 27 EU member countries. Graziano met with JCS Chairman Gen. Won In-choul and discussed the security situation of the Korean Peninsula.Won asked for the EU's continued support for Seoul's efforts to denuclearize the peninsula and to establish a permanent peace, and Graziano suggested "promoting the strategic partnership through consistent military cooperation," the JCS said. The European Union's military committee chief also met with South Korea's Defense Minister Suh Wook and discussed the regional security situation and ways to enhance bilateral cooperation, Suh's office said. During the meeting with Suh, Graziano voiced support for Seoul's peace efforts with North Korea and agreed to share the EU's Indo-Pacific strategies as soon as they are drawn up and discuss specific ways to cooperate, according to the ministry. Read more

Gen. Graziano's Interview with Financial Times

Gen. Graziano's Interview with Korea JoongAng Daily


EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific

The EU and its Member States have long enjoyed a broad and comprehensive relationship with its partners in the Indo-Pacific, a region spanning from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific Island States. Today, the Indo-Pacific is the focus of the world’s attention as the socio-economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic gets underway whilst geostrategic uncertainty in the region increases. 

The Council Conclusions on the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific adopted by 27 Foreign Ministers of the EU’s Member States today demonstrate the EU’s recognition of the growing importance of the region and its commitment to reinforcing its role in cooperation with its partners there.

The Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic centre of gravity. It is home to 60% of the world’s population producing 60% of global GDP, contributing two thirds of current global growth. By 2030, the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy will live in the Indo-Pacific. Read more


Indo-Pacific strategy signals renewed commitment: Top EU envoy

Speaking from her direct experiences in Asia, EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez emphasized that the announcement of the strategy signifies the EU's renewed commitment to the region.

“The EU strategy for cooperation in the Indo-Pacific is a renewed political commitment,” said Castillo-Fernandez. “It is our wish to enhance our cooperation with Asian partners and Indo-Pacific partners, to try to work together on global issues and on issues where we share common values.”

The EU and Korea this year are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their FTA, the first of which the union signed with an Asian country.

More recently, Korea and the EU have entered the final stages of their discussions on ensuring equal levels of data protection infrastructure to allow for a safe flow of data between the two, an issue that has become more imperative as the onset of the pandemic has moved many meetings to the online space.

Castillo-Fernandez sat down with the Korea JoongAng Daily last week before Europe Day, which is celebrated on May 9 every year, to discuss the beginnings of the union and how its founding spirit may be even more relevant as the EU and Korea look to cooperate in a pandemic-stricken world. Read more


Europe Day 2021: Celebrations in the Republic of Korea

This year, we marked the 71st anniversary of the 'Schuman declaration'. The declaration traces back to 9 May 1950 in Paris, when the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman set out in a speech his idea for a new form of political cooperation in Europe, which would make war between European nations unthinkable. This was the beginning of a peace project that ultimately led to the creation of the European Union (EU) as we know it today and every year on 9 May we celebrate this date as 'Europe Day'.

Every year on 9 May, the EU institutions in Europe, as well as its delegations and offices around the world organise a variety of activities for all ages to celebrate Europe Day and raise awareness of the EU.

This year’s celebrations came amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. In keeping with the social distancing measures, online events replaced “traditional” Europe Day celebrations, together with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Chorus of Korea and the Seoul Metropolitan Government. 


EU Online Film Festival 2021, May 9 - June 24

The European Film Festival (EUFF) is a celebration of rich cultural diversity of Europe, as viewers get a taste of different lifestyles from countries across the European Union. These critically-acclaimed independent movies display the best of European cinema with award-winning actors, directors and film crews. This year, celebrating the Europe Day on 9 May, we unveil our pick of 10 critically acclaimed European films for 2021. These new independent movies from across Europe will continue to challenge the limits of our imagination with artistic storytelling on the canvas of film. Our pick of 10 critically acclaimed movies from across the EU are open to Korean audience. Click the link, create account, sign in and you are all set to watch them for free. Each movie has 400 free virtual tickets available. 


IDAHOT 2021 EU-Korea: Celebrating the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

On the occasion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT), the Ambassadors of the European Union and the Member States expressed solidarity with LGBTIQ+ persons who experience violence and discrimination.

While the LGBTIQ+ rights movement has gained force over the past few years in the Republic of Korea, discrimination against LGBTIQ+ persons continues to exist in various forms. For the LGBTQI+ community, the COVID 19 pandemic has exacerbated existing stigma and hostility.  

We reaffirm that equality and non-discrimination are core values and a fundamental part of EU-RoK relations. We will continue to show solidarity and commitment, including through the EU Guidelines on non-discrimination in External Action and the LGBTIQ+ Equality Strategy 2020-2025.


Korea-EU CSO Network holds 3rd webinar on sustainability, accountability and legitimacy of CSOs: challenges and good practices from Korea and Europe

The Korea-EU CSO Network (KEN) held a webinar on 13 April addressing the theme of ‘Sustainability, accountability and legitimacy of CSOs’challenges and good practices from Korea and Europe.’ As part of the EU Delegation's public diplomacy activities, the KEN webinar was open online to all interested parties, including individuals and organizations involved in public diplomacy, social activists, potential activists, and students.

Hwa Jung Kim, Secretary-General of the Public Diplomacy Center and invited professor at the Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha University served as the moderator running the panel discussion at this KEN webinar.

Shin Jae Eun, Director of the Korea NGO Council for Overseas Development Cooperation (KCOC)'s Policy·Education Center, and Eszter Hartay, Senior Legal Manager at European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL) presented their views from the Republic of Korea and Europe, respectively.

Both panelists replied to questions from the audience and shared their thoughts and suggestions on ways to build sustainable and transparent community activities and on issues related to CSO’s accountability and legitimacy.

English and Korean simultaneous interpretation was provided to encourage participation from the widest possible audience. 

The Korea-EU CSO Network (KEN) held several workshops and webinars involving civil society organizations (CSOs) from both regions as part of the public diplomacy project (EUPOP-ROK) funded by the European Union. In June and December 2020, workshops were held addressing the themes of ‘Human Rights, Discrimination and the Unequal Impact of COVID-19 on Persons in Vulnerable Positions’ and ‘Successfully Engaging the Public: Strategies and Challenges of Korean and European CSOs with a focus on persons with disabilities and disadvantaged groups.’ KEN also held a webinar in November 2020 on the theme ‘Empowering citizens through tailored advice, forward-looking research, advocacy, and campaigning.’ 

This year, KEN has hosted a workshop on March 8 titled ‘Celebrating International Women’s Day: Views from Korea and the EU on past achievements, present challenges and future’ and will hold an international conference in November.


[Diplomat Talks] EU Ambassador to S. Korea, Maria Castillo Fernandez

A community of 27 European nations beyond borders that practices multilateralism on a day to day basis: the European Union. The founding impetus for the community 70 years ago was none other than desire for peace. After two world wars, the European countries sought peaceful coexistence, giving birth to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC), and later the European Community in 1967, and finally the European Union in November 1993. As a strong community with unified policies and systems, the EU has become a model for multilateralism for the global community. Conflicts and issues arising from political and economic reasons, climate change, and COVID19 all urge the world to take multilateral actions. This week, we’ll meet with the EU Ambassador to Korea, Maria Castillo Fernandez, to learn about the value of solidarity beyond borders. Watch it here


EU Ambassador to Korea meets Minister of Environment

Environment Minister Han Jeoung-ae bumps fists with the EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo Fernandez during their meeting in Seoul on April 20, 2021. The EU and Korea maintain strong climate partnership towards carbon neutrality 2050. EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez thanked Minister Han Jeoung-Ae for a meaningful exchange with Ambassadors of the EU Member States.  


EU Ambassador to Korea Visits Daedeok District at forefront of responding to climate challenges

On the Earth Day, 22 April, EU Delegation visited Dadeok Dstrict, which is at the forefront of responding to climate challenges on the ground. EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez said "local authorities are catalysts for climate action - Daedeok District Mayor Park Jung-Hyun is leading the responses to climate challenges here in the region. We had substantive exchanges on climate action, as we celebrate together the Earth Day 2021 today and and I look forward to expanding city-to-city cooperation between Europe and Korea."


EU Goes To School 2021 Kicks Off 

The EU Goes To School, a programme for Ambassadors of the European Union to visit middle and high schools in Seoul to meet with students and talk about the EU, has kicked off this year respecting social distancing restrictions of the local authorities. On 14 May, EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez visited Yeongnam Middle School, in Yeongdeungpo, Seoul and gave a lecture about the EU to students highly interested in international exchanges and learning about the EU and Europe. Ambassadors of the EU and its Member States will continue to meet with students throughout the year, via ZOOM or offline classes, Covid-19 allowing. 


Press Release: EU-Republic of Korea agreement ensured resilient trade despite pandemic

On 3 May, the EU and the Republic of Korea highlighted how their ten-year-old trade agreement remains a bedrock of the bilateral economic relationship and a strong foundation to help our economies recover and grow from the Covid-19 pandemic. The 9th meeting of the Trade Committee established by the EU-Republic of Korea trade agreement was held today in person in Brussels and was co-chaired by Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade Valdis Dombrovskis and Korean Minister for Trade Yoo Myung-hee.

Since the agreement’s entry into force in 2010, total bilateral trade in goods increased by 46% in 2020, whereas bilateral trade in services recorded even more impressive growth of 86% in 2019 compared to 2010. The pandemic took a toll on global trade flows last year, but our bilateral trade flows dropped only by 1.6%, compared to 11% globally, and our bilateral trade in goods stood at around €90 billion in 2020. This is very welcome in view of the need to rebuild economic growth following the Covid-19 pandemic. Read more

Watch the 10 Years of EU-Korea FTA Video Here

EU Ambassador Promotes R&I Cooperation, Student Exchanges to Ewha Womans University, Solvay R&I Centre​​​​​​

EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez visited Ewha Womans University on 10 May and met with President Eun Mee Kim to encourage Ewha's involvement in the EU framework programme in education, research and innovation. Ambassador promoted Horizon Europe, the world's largest multilateral R&I cooperation platform with the funding of 95.5 billion EUR from 2021 to 2027, and mentioned the possibility of joining the ERASMUS+ programme. She also met with the Director Seung Eun Lee of Solvay R&I Centre at the Ewha campus and expressed her interest in academia-industry cooperation that will result in practical and beneficial R&I outcomes. 


President von der Leyen, President Michel participate in 2021 P4G Seoul Summit via video conference

President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council Charles Michel both attended the 2021 P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030) Seoul Summit via videoconference on 30-31 May. President von der Leyen thanked Prsident Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea for hosting the summit and said "in an exciting ‘Race to Zero,' I was delighted that President Moon announced Korea is also aiming to be climate neutral by 2050." "And I am encouraged by the commitments of our Korean hosts. This includes your plan for an ambitious NDC update ahead of COP26, in line with your net zero targets, and your announcement of an end to overseas coal financing. It is this kind of action that can both inspire and benefit Korea's international partners," she added. President Michel added "We have a unique opportunity to build back our societies in a way that respects our planet. This global challenge will require huge collective intelligence. First, by putting a price on carbon. And second, by developing green finance. We must come together as one international community to meet this urgent and vital challenge."

The following is the full speech by President von der Leyen. 


Stay Tuned for Upcoming Events

  • EU Agricultural Products Promotion Event, 19 June - 15 August

  • European Research and Innovation Days, 23-24 June

  • Online EU Booth at Seoul Queer Culture Festival, 26 June - 18 July 
  • Horizon Europe Info-Days, 28 June - 9 July 

  • Pride Expo in Community House Masil in Myeongdong, 17 July - 18 July