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Korea, EU agree to strengthen ties, COVID-19 response

President Moon Jae-in holds a teleconference summit meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday. (Cheong Wa Dae)
President Moon Jae-in holds a teleconference summit meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday. (Cheong Wa Dae)

South Korea and the European Union on Tuesday agreed to continue cooperating on a range of global issues, from the COVID-19 pandemic and environment to multilateralism and global security issues, in a teleconference summit.

President Moon Jae-in spoke with President of the European Council Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in place of the canceled South Korea-EU summit that was originally planned to be held in Seoul last month.

In his opening remarks, Moon emphasized the importance of relations with the EU, and pledged to strengthened cooperation.

“Based on the achievement of the last 10 years, Korea will strengthen cooperation (with the EU), and work together to prepare for the post-COVID era,” Moon said. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Korea and the EU forming a strategic partnership.

Going on to say that the pandemic has highlighted the importance of the environment and the rapid digitization of society, Moon said that strengthening cooperation in related fields will be the most important action in preparing for the future.

“I express respect to the new leadership of the EU that is leading the way in solving the global climate, environmental problems, and I hope (for the EU) to become an important partner for our government’s ‘Green New Deal.’”

In the joint press release, the two sides emphasized the importance of multilateralism, saying that the two sides are committed to overcoming challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic within the G-20 and UN framework.

Moon and the EU leaders agreed to strengthen cooperation among their health authorities and agreed to cooperate in the research and development of vaccines and medicines for new diseases.

In addition, the two sides called for the COVID-19 vaccine that will be developed in the future to become a “global common good.”

The joint press release also outlined Korea and the EU’s commitment to supporting developing countries in dealing with the disease. The EU has pledged over 36 billion euros ($40.4 billion) of assistance, while Korea plans to support partner nations in strengthening health care systems and in dealing with social and economic impact of the pandemic, according to the press release.

The two sides also agreed on the importance of free and transparent trade and investment environment, describing such conditions as being critical to global economic recovery.

The joint press release stated that Moon and EU leaders share a commitment to strengthening the “multilateral, rules-based trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core” and that the two sides will seek to further enhance the implementation of the Korea-EU free trade agreement.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)
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