By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik with Editor Ms. Joy Cho, Reporter Jeong Won-shik
As of July 17, 2020, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 13,672 with 293 deaths (fatality rate 2.14%) out of the total 1,451,017 persons tested and 1,414,235 persons found negative. In the world, the total number of confirmed cases reached nearly 14 million, of whom 592,746 persons died with a fatality rate reaching 4.25%.
At this juncture, The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language media outlets since 1985, interviewed Ambassador Michael Reiterer of the EU Delegation in Seoul to hear how the situation is with the EU member countries and to learn a number of other aspects of the European countries. Here are excerpts from the interview with Ambassador Reiterer.—Ed.
Question: How is the European Commission coping with COVID-19? What measure(s) has your Head of Government taken to control the worrisome epidemic plaguing the world today?
Answer: The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the coronavirus outbreak. We are taking resolute action to reinforce our public health sectors and mitigate the socio-economic impact in the European Union. We are mobilizing all means at our disposal to help our Member States coordinate their national responses and are providing objective information about the spread of the virus and effective efforts to contain it.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has established a Coronavirus response team at political level to coordinate our response to the pandemic
During these times of crisis, across the European Union, countries, regions, and cities are stretching out a helping hand to neighbors, and assistance is given to those most in need: donations of protective equipment such as masks, cross-border treatments of ill patients and bringing stranded citizens home.
Here are some examples of how the EU is working on all fronts to help tackle the crisis:
To kick-start the European recovery, protect lives, livelihoods and jobs, the European Commission is proposing a major € 2.4 trillion recovery plan based on using a powerful and modern EU budget to deliver a more sustainable, digital, and fair Europe. President von der Leyen said: “These investments will not only preserve the outstanding achievements of the last 70 years, but will also ensure that our Union is climate neutral, digital, social and a strong global player. This is Europe's moment.” More information about the EU economic recovery plan can be found here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/live-work-travel-eu/health/coronavirus-response/recovery-plan-europe_en
Q: What is the latest development of cooperation between the EU and Korea?
A: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel met with RoK President Moon Jae-in via videoconference on 30 June 2020.
With the opportunity of the 10th anniversary of the EU-Republic of Korea Strategic Partnership, leaders explored further areas of cooperation and looked forward to holding a Summit Meeting in Seoul in the near future when conditions will allow. President Michel indicated that the EU wants to become a stronger player in Asia.
The leaders issued a joint press release:
The leaders shared their respective experiences in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. They also stressed the importance of:
- Strengthened response capacities and enhanced information sharing through the coordination between the respective health authorities and centers for disease control
- Mutual support to ensure access to medical products as well as cooperation in research and development of vaccines and medicines, They called for the future COVID-19 vaccine to become a global common good
- Improvement of the international response including through relevant international organizations while reaffirming the role of the WHO in coordinating the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic
- Assistance towards developing countries, including in Africa and other vulnerable regions, in facing the impact of the crisis and strengthening their healthcare systems
The leaders committed to restoring robust economic growth and build more resilient, sustainable, and inclusive economies and societies also through green transition and digital transformation.
Trade and economy
Both sides acknowledged their commitment to further enhance the implementation of the EU-Republic of Korea free trade agreement, the urgent need to further reduce non-tariff barriers, and to improve access for agri-food products to each other’s markets.
EU leaders encouraged the Republic of Korea to make continued efforts to take relevant measures on labor issues, including the ratification of the fundamental International Labour Organization Conventions.
They expressed their joint commitment to support the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at its core, both sides fully engaged behind the reform of the institution. They agreed on the importance of exploring a possible initiative by WTO members to facilitate trade in medical supplies so as to reinforce global preparedness for health emergencies.
ln discussing trade, leaders reiterated their goal to keep markets and the trading system open. Emergency measures aimed at protecting health should be targeted, proportionate, transparent, and temporary in order to avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.
In addition, both sides discussed matters relating to innovation and cooperation in the digital technologies sector, including ethical implementation of artificial intelligence and secure cross border data flows.
The leaders agreed to strengthen joint efforts to promote connectivity based on the principles of sustainability, openness, inclusiveness, and transparency, respecting a level playing field. They welcomed the recent signature of the EU-Republic of Korea horizontal aviation agreement
The EU and the Republic of Korea underlined the urgency of stepping-up the global response to fighting against climate change, including their commitment to implement the Paris Agreement and the Partnering for Green Growth and Global Goals 2030 Summit foreseen to be held in Korea in 2021.
Leaders also discussed the geopolitical situation in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They agreed to intensify practical cooperation in areas such as cybersecurity and countering disinformation and other hybrid threats.
Both sides supported the UN Secretary-General’s call for an immediate global ceasefire to address the potential impact of the spread of the virus in conflict areas.
Leaders addressed other pressing regional and international issues, such as the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and in Hong Kong, the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Q: Send us a copy of the resume of the Head of the EU.
A CV of European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen :
Biography of the candidate for President
Ursula von der Leyen is a licensed physician and was born on 8 October 1958 in Brussels. She is married and has seven children.
Since December 2013 Federal Minister of Defence
2009 – 2013 Federal Minister of Labor and Social Affairs
Since October 2009 Member of the German Bundestag
2005 – 2009 Federal Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Since December 2004 Member of the Presidium of the Christian Democratic Party (CDU) of Germany
March 2003 to November 2005 Minister for Social Affairs, Women, Family Affairs and Health in Lower Saxony
2003 – 2005 Member of the CDU in the State Assembly of Lower Saxony
2001 – 2004 Various local political positions in the region of Hanover
1999 Member of the Physicians' Working Group of the CDU of Lower Saxony
Since 1990 Member of the CDU
Professional and academic career
1998 – 2002 Member of the academic staff, Department of Epidemiology, Social Medicine and Health System Research, Hanover Medical School (Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, MHH)
1995 Market analysis, Stanford Health Services Hospital Administration
1993 Auditing guest: Graduate School of Business, Stanford University
1992 – 1996 Lived in Stanford, California, USA
1988 – 1992 Assistant physician, Women's Clinic, Hanover Medical School
2001 Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
1987 State examination and license to practice
1980 – 1987 Studied medicine at Hanover Medical School
1978 London School of Economics
1977 – 1980 Studied economics in Göttingen and Münster
1971 – 1976 Attended grammar school with a special focus on mathematics and science, Lehrte
1964 – 1971 European School of Brussels
Biography of Charles Michel
Charles Michel is the third President of the European Council
Charles Michel was born in the Belgian town of Namur in 1975, when the European Union consisted of only nine member states. He grew up listening to the stories of his parents and grandparents, who had experienced the devastation of the Second World War and knew how precious peace and reconciliation are. Today he says: "I have never taken these for granted".
Charles Michel studied law at the University of Brussels. In 1998, he had the opportunity to take part in the Erasmus programme. He went to the Netherlands and fell in love with Amsterdam. "I went there as a Belgian, and left as a committed European," he says. There, he made friends from all over the continent and understood that Europe is all about its values: living together peacefully, listening to others, and showing them respect - no matter the person’s color, race or background. After his studies, he became a lawyer in Brussels. For Charles Michel, law has always been about people and protecting their rights and freedoms.
Passionate about politics from a young age, Charles Michel decided to run in the elections soon after university. He was elected as a member of the federal parliament in 1999. A year later, he became the Walloon Minister for Interior Affairs and Civil Service, and in 2007, Federal Minister for Development Cooperation. He played an important role in his political party, MR (Reformist Movement), as spokesperson (2004-2011) and finally leader of the party (2011-2014).
During this time, between 2006 and 2014, he was also Mayor of Wavre - a small town close to Brussels, where he lives with his partner Amélie and their children.
"For me, politics has always been about people. Being a mayor taught me to keep my feet on the ground. And my priorities straight", he says.
He is the father of two daughters and a son. "I am a very lucky man," he admits, "I learn a lot from them. And no matter how busy I am, I always make time for them."
Following the federal elections in June 2014, Charles Michel was involved in coalition negotiations. He became the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium in October 2014. His most challenging moment as Prime Minister came a year and a half year later when on 22 March 2016, two deadly terror attacks struck Brussels Airport and the Maelbeek metro station. "On that day, I realized what it means to serve your country. Your only concern is to protect your people," he says.
On 2 July 2019, EU leaders elected Charles Michel as President of the European Council. He took office on 1 December 2019.
Q: Send us a copy of the resume of Your Excellency.
A: Michael Reiterer is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotential of the European Union to the Republic of Korea. Previously he served as Principal Advisor at the Asia and Pacific Department, European External Action Service (EEAS), Brussels (2012-2016). Earlier he served as EU-Ambassador to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein (2007-2011), Minister/Deputy Head of the EU-Delegation to Japan (2002-2006) and ASEM Counsellor (1998-2002).
Before joining the EU in 1998 he was Minister-Counsellor at the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU/Brussels, he was Counsellor at the Permanent Representation of Austria to the GATT, Counsellor at the European Economic and Social Committee, Co-chair of the Joint Experts Group at the OECD on trade and environment, WTO-panellist, Deputy Director-General for European Integration and Trade Policy at the Austrian Federal Economic Chamber as well as Austrian Deputy Trade Commissioner to West Africa and Japan.
Having studied law at the University of Innsbruck he was appointed Adjunct Professor for international politics in 2005 and Distinguished Associate Professor at the Institute for European Studies at the Free University in Brussels in 2019. He also holds diplomas in international relations from the Johns Hopkins University/Bologna Center and the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. He has published extensively on EU foreign policy, EU-Asia relations including ASEM, security policy, interregionalism and cultural diplomacy.
Q: Send us whatever other stories/picture materials that are available concerning the recent developments in your esteemed country.
A: EU Delegation to RoK, MoFA Celebrate Winner of Logo Competition for 10th Anniversary of EU-RoK Strategic Partnership:
The EU Ambassador, Michael Reiterer, and the Ambassador for Public Diplomacy, Chang Jae-bok spoke at the event, which took place only days before a video conference between the EU leaders and President Moon.
Public Diplomacy Ambassador Chang said “I hope that the logo can be widely used for various cooperation events and promotional materials in the RoK and Europe. This year, which marks the 10th anniversary of strategic partnership, we hope that the EU and the RoK will envision a future of prosperity and shared growth, open up new areas of cooperation and promote cultural exchanges to enhance mutual understanding.”
The EU Delegation organized an online competition to design a logo to mark the 10th anniversary of the Strategic Partnership. In Asia, the EU has strategic partnerships with China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea. Strategic Partnerships represent a will to work together on issues of global and regional significance. The EU-Republic of Korea Strategic Partnership exemplifies shared values and interests. It is implemented via three core agreements facilitating cooperation on trade, political and security issues.
The EU Ambassador looked forward to the next ten years of the Strategic Partnership, saying “As we mark ten years of the strategic partnership, it is more important than ever that we redouble our efforts to reinforce the international rules-based order. We need to reinforce the functioning of multilateral organizations. We must use the current circumstances as an opportunity for a green new deal that moves us towards a sustainable recovery. In this respect, we bear responsibility for future generations who will have to repay debts but cannot be burdened with climate and environmental problems associated with investment. The EU is confident that Korea will stand front and center with the European Union in this common endeavor”.
The winning logo of the competition will be used in official promotional materials about the EU and the Republic of Korea.
The Republic of Korea-EU leaders' video conference on 30 June will bring together the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in. They will discuss the lessons learned from the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, how they can better cooperate to mitigate the effects of the crisis and concrete steps to take in order to strengthen resilience at the international level, including on the Korean peninsula.
Factsheet on EU-RoK 10 year strategic partnership:
The European Union and the Republic of Korea are like-minded partners that share similar values and interests. Their relations are based on three major agreements, covering:
• political relations and sectoral cooperation;
* free trade;
• crisis management cooperation.
These agreements enable frequent, high-level exchanges, and concrete cooperation that have a positive impact on European citizens, Korean citizens, and populations around the world.