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José Manuel Durão Barroso
President of the European Commission
Statement by President Barroso following the EU-Korea Summit
Seventh EU-Republic of Korea Summit/Brussels
8 November 2013
Thank you very much,
Good morning, Ladies and Gentleman,
It is a pleasure to welcome President Park again to Brussels, this time as President of Korea! I remember well the meeting we had in 2009 in the Commission in a moment where our relations significantly accelerated. In fact, the visit of President Park, then as a Special Envoy, was an important contribution for the last impulse for our historic FTA agreement. And I really welcome the fact that President, you came so early in your mandate to the European Union, for this Summit. I believe we can see this as a clear signal of your commitment to this very important relationship.
Indeed, we are celebrating today a relationship that dates back to 1963, so 50 years of successful cooperation.
But this Summit was also about looking ahead and launch the basis for the future of our relations.
I had the privilege of working in these last 9 years for the intensification and consolidation of these relations. Korea was indeed one of the countries that I visited most, not just for bilateral Summits, but also for multilateral events such as the G20 or the Nuclear Security summit. Very successful events organised by Korea. And this also shows that our partnership with Korea is at the avant garde of our external relations.
Korea was the first G20 country with which we concluded a Framework Agreement and a second generation free trade agreement. These Agreements are now the bedrock of our partnership. They have supported the intensification of our relations both in the political and economic spheres.
The Free Trade Agreement, now two years old, continues to be a driving force for our cooperation. The European Union is now the largest foreign investor in the Republic Of Korea. And our trade in goods with South Korea has significantly increased.
While the global economic crisis has had its impact on all bilateral trade, the pick-up in European Union's economy will allow the EU-Korea economic relations in general and trade in particular to expand to even greater heights.
We must continue to work to expand our economic relationship through the full implementation of the agreement.
The advanced relation we have with Korea also reflects the fact that Korea has been leading in a number of areas. These days Korean brands have gone global, and it is not just high tech devices or cars, it is also Korean culture. And in fact, we have also discussed today what we can do in that important field for our cooperation.
Korea was also at the fore in the East Asia region by electing for the first time ever a woman as President of the Republic. Also in this matter, Korea made history. And my congratulations to President Park.
But both Europe and Korea still face important challenges, some of them quite similar, like the need to promote highly skilled employment, to fully tap the potential of the services sector, to invert the demographic decline and low fertility rates.
We are trying to address these issues through similar and, I believe, complementary concepts, Korea's “creative economy” and EU's "smart, sustainable and inclusive growth" strategies. We share the same view that prosperity in the long term needs to come from new sources of growth.
This is why it is in our common interest to step up our cooperation in innovation, science and technology. And I am glad to say that we are not losing any time.
We today approved enhanced cooperation in higher education. Universities and research institutions in the EU and the Republic of Korea will run more joint degrees and mobility programmes. These measures will further boost student exchanges and joint research over the coming years. I also welcomed President Park's intention to open an SME centre in Brussels, boosting Korean SME cooperation in Europe. And we have expanded the network of EU Centres hosted in South Korean universities to five.
Underlining our dynamic cooperation in the field of scientific and technological research, we also signed today an agreement to facilitate the hosting of top - quality Korean researchers in the EU.
We also discussed new areas of cooperation. Our agreement on global navigation satellite cooperation is nearly fully ratified, allowing this to come on stream shortly. And we are interested in further developing cyberspace cooperation. The EU applauds the lead the ROK is taking to maintain a safe, open and secure cyberspace. This will be a crucial ingredient for the creative economy, for individuals and SMEs, to blossom and grow.
I am glad to say that this convergence of views and new agreements "put flesh on the bones" of our Strategic Partnership. They make it real to our citizens, our academics and our business people.
Moreover and very importantly, despite geographical distance we are like minded partners on global issues. We both value democracy, the rule of law, open economies and open societies.
This is why our partnership goes beyond the bilateral context. By combining our strengths, we can have increased global impact. We both face global challenges such as the need for a strong economic recovery, addressing climate change, ensuring a new framework for sustainable development in a world post-2015 and regionally based security threats. We appreciate Korea's commitment to regional stability, through the East Asia initiative and Korea's “trust politik” vis à vis its neighbours. You can count with our full support for a safe, secure and denuclearised Korean peninsula.
The work we have done, and the future we have mapped out together this morning put us on a good road to deepen our alliance still further and to grow more prosperous and safer together.
A key ingredient for the success of our 50 years partnership has been the strong political will that I have seen on both sides to drive our friendship forward.
On the Republic of Korea side, this role now falls to you, Madam President, and I can think of no better hands for our alliance to be in than your own.
I look forward to seeing our dynamic and substantive collaboration continuing in the years to come, and, as we said during the Summit, for the happiness of the people of Korea and happiness of the European Union.
Thank you for your attention.