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.
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).
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