EU Relations With The Republic Of Korea — Factsheet

The Euro­pean Union is com­mit­ted to pur­su­ing its col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Repub­lic of Korea and to strength­en­ing their part­ner­ship, as demon­strat­ed by the fifth EU-Korea Sum­mit which will take place in Brus­sels on 6 Octo­ber 2010, back-to-back with the ASEM Sum­mit. The EU will be rep­re­sent­ed by Her­man Van Rompuy, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, and by José Manuel Bar­roso, Pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion. The Repub­lic of Korea will be rep­re­sent­ed by Pres­i­dent Lee Myung-bak.

This sum­mit meet­ing will reg­is­ter the impor­tant steps for­ward in the EU-Korea rela­tions giv­ing vis­i­bil­i­ty to a strength­ened part­ner­ship. The sign­ing of the Free Trade Agree­ment dur­ing the sum­mit will mark an impor­tant step in the bilat­er­al relations. 

Dis­cus­sions will focus on bilat­er­al rela­tions, glob­al issues (glob­al eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion and cli­mate change), and region­al issues (the sit­u­a­tion on the Kore­an penin­su­la, Pak­istan and Afghanistan and the devel­op­ments in wider East Asia). 


The Repub­lic of Korea, with approx­i­mate­ly 49 mil­lion inhab­i­tants, has the twen­ty fourth largest pop­u­la­tion in the world, and occu­pies a posi­tion of geo-strate­gic impor­tance in the Asia Pacif­ic region. The Repub­lic of Korea remains the EU’s eighth largest trade part­ner, while the EU has become the sec­ond largest export des­ti­na­tion of the Repub­lic of Korea. EU trade with the Repub­lic of Korea exceed­ed €65 bil­lion in 2008 and has enjoyed an annu­al aver­age growth rate of 7.5% between 2004 and 2008. 

The Repub­lic of Korea has tak­en over the chair­man­ship of G‑20 and will host the fol­low­ing G20 Sum­mit, sched­uled for 11–12 Novem­ber 2010 in Seoul. 

EU-Korea rela­tions

The EU rela­tion­ship with the Repub­lic of Korea is based on the 2001 Frame­work Agree­ment for Trade and Coop­er­a­tion. In recent years the scope of the over­all rela­tion­ship has devel­oped from a pre­dom­i­nant­ly trade-based rela­tion­ship to an active and broad-based coop­er­a­tion. The agen­da for coop­er­a­tion includes sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy, the infor­ma­tion soci­ety, edu­ca­tion, social pol­i­cy, cus­toms, com­pe­ti­tion, envi­ron­ment and devel­op­ment assistance. 

Since the last EU- Korea sum­mit held in Seoul on 23 May 2009, the EU-ROK rela­tions have con­tin­ued to devel­op very rapid­ly and favourably with suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion of nego­ti­a­tions on a new Frame­work Agree­ment (FA) and on a Free Trade Agree­ment (FTA).

The FA is the over­ar­ch­ing polit­i­cal coop­er­a­tion agree­ment with a legal link to the FTA, it pro­vides a basis for strength­ened coop­er­a­tion, includ­ing on major polit­i­cal and glob­al issues (e.g. joint pro­mo­tion of human rights, non-pro­lif­er­a­tion of weapons of mass destruc­tion, counter-ter­ror­ism, cli­mate change, devel­op­ment assis­tance, etc).The FA was signed on 10 May 2010. 

On 16 Sep­tem­ber 2010, the Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union approved the agree­ment with the Repub­lic of Korea on free trade. The agree­ment, ini­tialled on 15 Octo­ber 2009, pro­vides for the pro­gres­sive lib­er­al­i­sa­tion by both par­ties of trade in goods and ser­vices, as well as rules on trade-relat­ed issues such as com­pe­ti­tion and state aid, intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty and pub­lic pro­cure­ment. The sign­ing of this agree­ment will take place dur­ing the summit. 

Togeth­er, the two agree­ments will form the basis for an updat­ed and strength­ened polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic part­ner­ship with Korea. 

The last EU-Korea sum­mit was held in May 2009 in Seoul (pre­vi­ous­ly, bien­ni­al­ly in mar­gins of ASEM – 2002, 2004, 2006). 

Trade rela­tions

The EU is Korea’s sec­ond largest export mar­ket, after Chi­na. South Korea is the EU’s fourth largest trad­ing part­ner out­side the EU. EU-Korea trade in goods was worth around €54 bil­lion in 2009. The EU cur­rent­ly runs a deficit with Korea in goods trade (€ 10.5 bil­lion), although trends sug­gest that the Kore­an mar­ket offers sig­nif­i­cant growth poten­tial. In 2009, the EU import­ed from Korea €32.0 bil­lion worth of goods and export­ed €21.5 bil­lion. On ser­vices, the EU has a sur­plus with Korea of €3.4 bil­lion, with exports of €7.8 bil­lion in 2008 and imports of €4.4 bil­lion. The EU remains the sin­gle largest for­eign investor in Korea in cumu­la­tive terms since 1962. 

Coun­cil of the Euro­pean Union 

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