On Wednesday 7 July, the Executive Vice-President (EVP) of the European Commission Frans Timmermans concluded his three-day visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK). The visit has demonstrated the EU’s wish to keep the momentum in climate agenda ahead of COP26, and explore deepened cooperation on the green transition with the ROK, encouraging it to live up to its full potential as a frontrunner in climate action together with the EU. EVP Timmermans welcomed the recent ROK announcements on the net zero goal by 2050 and an end to overseas coal financing and congratulated Korea on successfully hosting the P4G (Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030) Summit in Seoul. Read more
On 22 July, Professor Song-roh Yoon, Chairperson of the Presidential Committee on the 4th Industrial Revolution met with EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez to discuss data policy and expanding cooperation in research and innovation, particularly in digital areas. Both sides agreed on the importance of data protection and exchanged views on data policies and investment strategies, among others. Ambassador Castillo-Fernandez underlined that the joint research will enable advanced cooperation in the 4th industrial revolution era and encouraged more participation of the Korean entities in the Horizon Europe programme.
On 16 June, the Commission launched the process towards adoption of the adequacy decision for the transfer of personal data to the Republic of Korea. It will cover transfers of personal data to the Republic of Korea's commercial operators as well as public authorities. If adopted, this decision would provide Europeans with strong protections of their personal data when it is transferred to the Republic of Korea. At the same time, it would complement the EU-Republic of Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and boost cooperation between the EU and the Republic of Korea as leading digital powers. The trade agreement has led to a considerable rise in bilateral trade of goods and services. Ensuring the free flow of personal data to the Republic of Korea through an adequacy decision based on a high level of data protection will support this trade relationship worth nearly € 90 billion. Read more
On Tuesday 27 July, Professor Sun-jin Yun, co-Chairperson of the 2050 Carbon Neutrality Commission met with EU Ambassador to Korea Maria Castillo-Fernandez to discuss EU's new climate policy - the Fit for 55 package - along with the 2050 climate neutrality long-term strategy. Both sides agreed that greening our economies and societies in all sectors is the priority and explored ways to further strengthen bilateral cooperation in these fields, including 2030 NDC, 2050 net-zero strategy, renewables and just transition, circular economy and agricultural sector.
On 19 July, the EU announced the launch of the 14-month “Colours by Europe. Tastes of Excellence” Campaign from July 2021 until August 2022, to raise awareness of the safety, quality, authenticity, sustainability and diversity of European agricultural food and beverages products in Korea. Led by the EU, the campaign promotes agricultural products, including meat (beef and pork), Geographical Indication products such as dairy (cheese, butter), olive oil, wine, beer, livestock and organic products, including fruits, vegetables and cereals, produced in the 27 member countries in the EU region.
At the virtual launch event on 19 July, importers, distributors, retailers, as well as EU officials participated. Maria Castillo-Fernandez, Ambassador of the European Union to the Republic of Korea said, “This year is a special year. We are celebrating the 10th anniversary of the EU-Korea Free Trade Agreement that comes with an impressive growth in bilateral trade of more than 46%, reaching over €110 billion among which exports of agricultural products to Korea tripled in ten years, reaching 3 billion euros in 2020.” Read more
The EU-Republic of Korea agreement, the first-ever EU trade deal with a sustainability chapter, also played an important role in improving workers’ rights, including the Republic of Korea’s ratification of three fundamental International Labour Organization Conventions.
Executive Vice-President and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said: “We have a lot to celebrate on the 10th anniversary of the EU-Republic of Korea trade deal, which has led a big boost in our bilateral trade - in fact, trade has doubled. This shows that trade deals are very much worth negotiating and implementing, and they are vital to our recovery: every €1 billion of exports supports 13,000 jobs in the EU. The deal also shows that the EU is walking the talk on workers’ rights, as the agreement has successfully contributed to the Republic of Korea’s ratification of key international labour conventions.” Read more
On 24 June, the EU and the Republic of Korea held their fourth consultations on security and defence by video conference. They discussed policy developments, including the security and defence aspects of the EU Strategy on the Indo-Pacific, as well as regional and international issues. They also discussed the maritime security situation in the Gulf of Guinea, where the EU has launched a pilot project for its Coordinated Maritime Presences Concept.
The EU stands ready to support the leading role of the Republic of Korea in new diplomatic efforts to build sustainable peace, security and the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula in line with UN Security Council resolutions. Read more
On 21 June, the European Union adopted the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2020. The annual report highlights the vital importance of placing the protection of human rights at the centre of EU’s foreign policy, even more so in the wake of the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has posed unprecedented challenges to human rights and democracy across the globe.
The EU will continue to play a leading role in international efforts to highlight violations of human rights, and work with international human rights institutions, CSOs and other mechanisms to promote a global system for the protection of human rights and democracy. Read more