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Statement by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the EU-Republic of Korea Summit videoconference

Statement given today by President von der Leyen at the joint press conference with President Michel, following the EU-Republic of Korea Summit videoconference.

Thank you so much, Charles.

I would also like to thank President Moon for our discussions this morning.

Indeed, in times of an unprecedented global health crisis, we need countries to come together, to work together, and to achieve together. It was important to exchange experiences and best practices with the Republic of Korea on responding to the pandemic; even more so given Korea's very innovative and successful approach to slowing down the pandemic.

One important aspect that we discussed is the need for mutual support in the supply of medical products, as well as concrete cooperation on research and development of diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, and increasing manufacturing capacity. The Republic of Korea made a very generous pledge to the Coronavirus Global Response initiative back in May. And Prime Minister Chung delivered a clear political statement during the Global event on Saturday. So this shows that Korea is sending a very strong message to the world as a reliable partner in this common cause.

The European Union and the Republic of Korea have a strategic partnership. Concretely, this means that the intensity and level of our cooperation is among the highest that we have with any country in the world. This cooperation is particularly relevant when it comes to relaunching sustainable, inclusive and resilient economies.

We have a Free Trade Agreement that is providing concrete proof of the mutual benefits of open trade to our businesses and citizens. Indeed, our trade in goods passed EUR 90 billion last year, and interestingly, the trade in services reached nearly EUR 20 billion. So this shows the intensity of the trade relations we have between both regions. Of course, we discussed with President Moon how to ensure that our trade relations keep getting stronger in order to reach their full potential.

A few topics where we put emphasis on were: For example, we put emphasis on the importance of climate action as a fundamental part of a sustainable economic recovery. It is interesting to see that Korea has its own Korean Green Deal. So we discussed how to manage the green transition, encouraging also others to do the same and of course to deliver on our respective commitments under the Paris Agreement. So the question for both sides is now how to deliver on our goal of carbon neutrality. As the Republic of Korea referring to its own Korean Green Deal was very strong on their ideas, we can count on their full support and cooperation in its implementation. We hope that this can be an inspiration to others in the region and a good example – leading by example is often the best.

The present crisis has also shown the potential of the digital transformation for our economies and societies. So we are both convinced that investing in clean and digital technologies will help us create lasting jobs and better growth. We agreed with President Moon to advance our cooperation in this area, as well as on data protection. We also touched upon our strong collaboration in research and innovation. We are looking forward to further enhancing this cooperation under the EU's so-called ‘Horizon Europe' programme. So while we look forward to have our regular Summit in Seoul at the earliest possible time, today I think was an important moment to reaffirm our joint commitment to working together across all the areas that have been touched upon now in the press conference and beyond that.


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