During the 8th Summit between the EU and the Republic of Korea, which was held on 15 September 2015 in Seoul, both sides agreed to continue to invest in comprehensive, mutually beneficial and future-oriented relations.
The last Joint Committee meeting, which took place in Seoul on 23 June 2016, gave the opportunity to consolidate the existing comprehensive cooperation and to deliver the commitments agreed in the framework of the 2015 bilateral Summit.
The bilateral Framework Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea
The Framework Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Korea was signed on 10 May 2010 and entered into force on 1 June 2014.
The first Agreement of its kind between the EU and an Asian country, the Framework Agreement still provides a comprehensive legal framework covering a wide spectrum of policy fields, including inter alia human rights, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combating terrorism, the fight against corruption and organised crime, trade, migration, environment, energy, climate change, transport, science and technology, employment and social affairs, education, agriculture, development assistance, culture, etc.
The Framework Agreement established a Joint Committee to facilitate the implementation and to further the general aims of the Agreement, to maintain the overall coherence in the relations and to ensure the proper functioning of any other agreement between the Parties. The 13th Joint Committee meeting was held on 23 June 2016 in Seoul.
More than 35 different bilateral dialogues and regular meetings allow the EU and the Republic of Korea to advance cooperation on a number of political, sectoral and global issues. The Joint Committee established under the bilateral Framework Agreement ensures and monitor its implementation.
Like in the Republic of Korea, fundamental rights are guaranteed nationally by the constitutions of the Member States and at EU level by the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Under the aegis of the UN bodies, the Republic of Korea and the European Union also promote human rights abroad. The European Union views all human rights as universal, indivisible and interdependent. It actively promotes and defends them both within its borders and when engaging in relations with non-EU countries.
The 2012 strategic framework on human rights and democracy
is designed to make EU human rights policy more effective and consistent. Promoting human rights work can help to prevent and resolve conflicts and, ultimately, to alleviate poverty.
In 2012, the EU appointed Mr Stavros Lambrinidis as a Special representative for human rights.
The EU has also adopted a number of guidelines to promote specific human rights. EU guidelines are not legally binding, but because they have been adopted at ministerial level, they represent a strong political signal that they are priorities for the Union.
Death penalty - 2013
Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment - 2012
Promotion and protection of freedom of religion or belief - 2013
Promote and protect the enjoyment of all Human Rights by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) - 2013
Human Rights dialogues with third countries
Children and armed conflict - 2008
Human Rights defenders - 2008
Violence against women and girls and combating all forms of discrimination against them - 2008
International Humanitarian Law
EU Human Rights Guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline - 2014
In 2017, the EU revised the 2008 guidelines for the promotion and protection of the rights of the child.
The Member States of the European Union are all Parties to the UN Human Rights Convention and the European Union is a State Party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, in its own right.
The Republic of Korea is Party to most of the main International Human Rights instruments with the exception of the Optional Protocol of the Convention against torture and the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on the abolition of the Death Penalty.
The Republic of Korea has not acceded to four of the ILO’s core conventions, Conventions 29 and 105 on forced labour and Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association, the protection of the right to organise and collective bargaining.
The positions of the republic of Korea and the European Union are aligned in the Human Rights Council and at the UN General Assembly - not least on the issue of Human Rights in the DPRK especially the EU-Japan led resolution.
During the latest Universal Periodic Review by the UN Human Rights Council, which took place in 2012, the Republic of Korea accepted 42 of the 70 recommendations issued. The third UPR will be taking place in 2017.
Every year, the EU and the Republic of Korea hold human rights consultations, mark international human rights day (10 December) and other international day events relating to human rights, such as International Women’s Day (8 March). The EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy appraises its human rights work worldwide on a thematic basis
and on a geographical basis, including in the Republic of Korea.
Disarmament and Non Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
The EU strongly and consistently supports international diplomatic and counter-proliferation efforts and works closely with the Republic of Korea on addressing DPRK nuclear and ballistic challenges. In support of the UN Security Council resolutions, the EU has adopted a series of sanctions, including additional sanctions, lastly on 6 April 2017.
Since its establishment, the European External Action Service (EEAS), coordinates the EU positions in international non-proliferation and disarmament fora, to ensure the active and visible EU role. In 2013, Jacek Bylica was appointed as the EU Special Envoy on Non-proliferation and Disarmament in order to reinforce EU action and enhance visibility of its relevant policies.
The Republic of Korea is also active, as one of the 65 members of the Conference on Disarmament (CD), which was established in 1979 to negotiate the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. In November 2016, the 15th Republic of Korea-United Nations joint conference on disarmament and non-proliferation issues was held on Jeju Island.
The engagement of the Republic of Korea towards promoting the international non-proliferation regime, including as the chair of Nuclear Supplier's Group and the Missile Technology Control Regime has to be underlined.
In November 2016, the Republic of Korea became the 91st State Party to the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and the European Union looks forward to working together with the Republic of Korea on the effective implementation of the ATT.
The participation of the Republic of Korea in EU crisis management operations
The bilateral Agreement on EU crisis management operations
came into force in December 2016 and reinforces the Strategic Partnership between the two entities by establishing a framework for the participation of the RoK in EU crisis management operations of civilian and military character.
There are currently 16 EU crisis management operations in the world, where the EU mobilises all relevant instruments (political, diplomatic, economic, financial, military, consular, judicial and development aid related) to respond to emerging or on-going crises throughout the world. e_CSDP_Annual Report.pdf
In March 2017, only a few months after the entry into force of the bilateral Agreement, the Republic of Korea dispatched the warship Choi Young to the EU naval force’s counter-piracy operation in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia.