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José Manuel Durão Barroso

President of the European Commission

Remarks by President Barroso following the 6th Republic of Korea - EU Summit

Joint press conference

Seoul, 28 March 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to thank President Lee for his warm welcome and hospitality today and to congratulate him for the success of the Nuclear Security Summit that took place these last two days here in Seoul.

Keeping up with the good level of discussions in the past two days, we just had a very productive bilateral summit where we exchanged views on matters of common interest.

We updated President Lee on the economic situation in the European Union. Since the beginning of the year, we have taken what I believe are very important steps forward regarding the stability in the euro zone.

There is today a clear agreement in Europe that we must now focus on growth – not by weakening our commitment to sound budgetary policies – these are indispensable for stability and confidence –, but by completing our single market, tackling obstacles to our competitiveness, investing in key economic infrastructure.

So my message is clear: Europe has come a long way. We may have much hard work still ahead of us, but we know what we need to do and we are doing it.

Turning to our bilateral relationship: Korea is a natural and likeminded partner of the European Union and today's summit further contributed to reinforce our strong ties. After signing the Framework Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement in 2010, our relationship has grown stronger. We are now working closely to reap the full potential of our strategic partnership and our trade and investment relations.

As global players, the European Union and Korea are also addressing common challenges together. During our meeting we exchanged views on how to foster the implementation of the G20 Action Plan for Growth. We also discussed green growth having in mind namely the Rio +20 conference and also the next G20 Summit in Mexico. I was here in Seoul in 2010 for the G20 Summit and I remember well President Lee's leadership during our talks then. Korea is indeed at the world's centre stage playing a very constructive role and I really want to welcome that.I am sure that also in matters of common concern like sustainability and green growth the European Union and Korea can work together and even go further. We have discussed today for instance what we can do better in terms of research, including technology in green development.

The European Union is also part of the international effort to promote peace and human rights. That is why I would like to have a word on the appalling situation of human rights in North Korea. I urge the North Korean authorities to respect the basic principles of fundamental rights. It is simply incredible what is going on in North Korea when it comes to the situation of lack of respect of human dignity. The European Union remains committed to the promotion of human rights all over the world and the situation in North Korea deserves special attention.

Let me conclude by saying that the strategic partnership between the European Union and Korea is indeed very strong. Our level of engagement is deepening. I sincerely look forward to the continuation of our dialogue for the benefit of our peoples.

Before finishing, I would like thank President Lee for his commitment and his personal leadership in terms of EU-Korea relations. President Lee will always be associated with the important steps that have made our partnership what it is today and what I am sure it will be also in the future.

I thank you for your attention.

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