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Procedură : 2007/2186(INI)
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Stadii ale documentului : A6-0463/2007

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Dezbateri :

PV 13/12/2007 - 5
CRE 13/12/2007 - 5

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PV 13/12/2007 - 6.15
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Joi, 13 decembrie 2007 - Strasbourg Ediţie revizuită

5. Relaţii economice şi comerciale cu Coreea (dezbatere)

  Presidente. L'ordine del giorno reca la relazione di David Martin, a nome della commissione per il commercio internazionale, sulle relazioni economiche e commerciali con la Corea (2007/2186(INI)) (A6-0463/2007).


  David Martin (PSE), rapporteur. Mr President, this report had to be put together rather quickly, because we anticipated – we even hoped – that the Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Korea might be concluded by the end of this year. That is clearly not going to be the case but, nevertheless, we are pleased that Parliament is able to report today and we hope, through our report today, that we will be able to influence the Commission’s position.

To get to where we are today, some of my colleagues had to work extremely hard, and I would like to thank Christopher Ford from the Trade Committee and Emmanuelle Le Texier from the PSE Group, who worked above and beyond the normal call of duty to get this report prepared in time. I would also like to thank Commissioner Mandelson and his services for the good cooperation I have had from the Commission in producing this report, and also the Korean Ambassador, whose assistance enabled me to get an insight into the Korean position on these negotiations.

Historically, free trade agreements between the European Union and Asian countries have been trade-light, despite their name. I think this could be the exception to the rule. Korea has shown a willingness and an ability to negotiate a far-reaching and comprehensive bilateral trade agreement.

Korea is a significant player in the region in Asia. It is now a wealthy country, the 11th largest economy in the world. Its per capita income is comparable to Spain. It is an economy that is growing quickly, and trade between our two regions – between Korea and the European Union – reached EUR 60 billion last year. So it is a deal worth doing, and, if we can get it right, I think it is a win-win situation. The Korean manufacturing industry, for example, can win through access to European services, enabling Korean manufacturing to expand and to compete more favourably. We can win, through access to the Korean market for some of our key goods and services.

The timetable, as I mentioned, was originally set for conclusion by the end of this year. It now realistically looks like May next year will be the earliest negotiations can be concluded, but I am encouraged that, after five rounds of negotiations, talks seem to be getting down to the nitty gritty and seem to be getting serious. There are clearly still significant gaps between the European Union position on issues like country-of-origin labelling, technical standards for the automobile industry and on tariff concessions for goods. But the key point is that negotiations are now being conducted at a serious and detailed level.

My main concerns come in the field of, firstly, social and environmental standards. Even with this delay, the Korean agreement looks like being the first of the new generation of FTAs that we agree. As such, it can be a template for further FTAs, and I would like to see our ambitions in relation to environmental and social standards raised. I would like to ensure that there is a dispute settlement mechanism in the Agreement. I do not believe that we should settle for anything less than the United States have settled for, and they have got a dispute settlement mechanism in their report. I believe issues like ratification of key ILO conventions and the post-2012 application of any new climate change agreement cannot be left to mere gentlemen’s agreements or simply encouraging people to do things. We have to actually have some mechanism for settling disputes. I hope the Commission will look at this again.

I also want to argue that the Kaesong Industrial Complex should be looked at sympathetically in relation to such an agreement. I accept the Commission’s approach that, firstly, we have to get the Free Trade Agreement; but if we can get the FTA, before signature we should look at how we can assist South Korea in terms of encouraging North Korea to come into the real world. The Kaesong Industrial Complex, based in North Korea but run by South Korean companies, is a way of engaging North Korea with the rest of the world, and it is a process that we should be encouraging. I believe that, through our trade agreement, we can do much to assist South Korea in this process. It is not just a matter of interest for South Korea but it is a matter of interest for the world. It makes the world a safer place if North and South Korea can cooperate.

I believe this is an important free trade agreement. I believe it is one that both the EU and Korea can win if we get the right deal. I support the Commission’s view that we should not rush to a settlement, and that a good settlement is better late than a bad settlement that we get early. I hope, when Korea changes president at the beginning of next year, that the new president will instruct his administration to work tirelessly to reach this agreement before the summer.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, I welcome the excellent and speedy work done by the rapporteur, Mr Martin, and his colleagues and staff. Together they have produced a comprehensive and balanced report, which I commend.

Parliament’s endorsement of this motion for a resolution will send a clear signal of support for the Commission’s policy of seeking an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) with South Korea, as part of the strategy laid out in the Global Europe Communication of October 2006. The choice of South Korea as partner for this generation of free trade agreements reflects the important economic and political potential of the country, but it is also an acknowledgement of the reality that important barriers exist and persist to stronger economic and trade ties between us.

The motion is timely: free trade negotiations with South Korea were launched in May 2007, and have progressed rapidly so far. We are ready to work for an early conclusion so long as the substance and quality of the outcome are right. That is our bottom line and it will remain so.

Our FTA with South Korea should be fully WTO-compatible. That goes without saying. We seek far-reaching liberalisation in trade in goods and services, as well as in investment. We are paying special attention to non-tariff barriers and to rules and regulations in key areas, such as intellectual property rights, competition and government procurement. I fully agree with the importance the report attaches to non-tariff barriers and to effective dispute settlement machinery in this and other aspects of the prospective agreement.

Studies have suggested that, in some sectors in Korea, non-tariff barriers are now more important than the tariffs themselves. Substantial improvements on these behind-the-border barriers to trade, creating real market access for EU exports to South Korea, will be absolutely key to conclusion of the FTA.

On a few of the specific concerns that have been raised, the question of Kaesong raises complex technical and political questions. We welcome the amendments proposed in this regard, because they highlight the complexity of the question, which will require careful consideration. The recognition and promotion of the social and environmental aspects of trade – sustainable development – will be an integral part of the free trade agreement with South Korea.

I agree that effective enforcement of standards is key to securing an ambitious and effective result on sustainable development in this agreement. However, a cooperative tone can achieve much more in this area than the appearance of coercion. We expect to cover a greater number of multilateral environmental agreements, and to include issues such as decent work and a stronger commitment to ILO core conventions, and expect to go beyond other recent agreements, such as those covered by the Korea-US FTA. We will also aim to involve the social partners and civil society in this cooperation.

The sustainability impact assessment has been launched. The main findings of draft reports in the different phases will be discussed with civil society. We have set up the SIA to ensure that there will be continuous and rapid feedback into the negotiation process. This builds on the initial contacts we had with civil society at the start of the negotiations.

We have also worked closely with Parliament. The cooperation with the rapporteur and the Committee on International Trade has been excellent. I myself, as well as the Director-General, have regularly updated that Committee. As far as the ratification procedure is concerned, this will depend on the content of the agreement itself, but the Commission is in favour of involving Parliament as much as is possible under the Treaty.

Finally, a possible future FTA covering the bilateral trade relations with South Korea will be part of an overall and coherent framework of EU relations with South Korea. The existing bilateral framework agreement will continue to govern bilateral cooperation and political dialogue.

To conclude, the goal of this FTA is to complement an ambitious Doha outcome by going deeper and further bilaterally with South Korea. Past experience shows that such agreements can road test liberalisation solutions and become stepping-stones for the future evolution of the WTO. An ambitious and comprehensive FTA with South Korea is not just commercially significant, but will also mean an important upgrading of the bilateral EU-Korea relationship. It is also a recognition of the engagement of the EU on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. In a wider sense, it is part of our broader commitment to ensuring that EU trade policy in Asia is keeping up with the dramatic development of that region, and securing the benefits in terms of jobs, growth and growing trade for both sides.


  Werner Langen (PPE-DE), Verfasser der Stellungnahme des mitberatenden Ausschusses für Industrie, Forschung und Energie. Herr Präsident! Der Ausschuss für Industrie, Forschung und Technologie bedankt sich beim Berichterstatter dafür, dass unsere Vorschläge aufgenommen wurden. Wir halten ein Abkommen für sinnvoll, wollen allerdings darauf hinweisen, dass es in der Vergangenheit schon erhebliche sektorale Probleme mit Korea gegeben hat, wenn ich etwa an die Diskussion über die Dumpingpreise der Schifffahrtsindustrie in den letzten Jahren denke, wo wir auch Verfahren hatten. Wir möchten gewährleistet wissen, dass diese sektoralen Probleme so gelöst werden, dass wirklich eine gegenseitige Öffnung stattfindet und Korea nicht einseitig der Nutznießer ist, sondern dass – auch wenn man an unsere Pharmaindustrie, die Automobilindustrie, an viele Industriebereiche denkt – die Reziprozität gewährleistet ist.

Ein besonderes Thema war Kaesŏng. Der Kommissar hat die Frage, wie man diese nordkoreanische Sonderzone einbezieht, gerade angesprochen. Wie ich höre, sind acht weitere Sonderzonen geplant. Hier müssen nach Überzeugung des Industrieausschusses die internationalen Standards gelten. Wir können nicht auf diese Art unsere eigenen Freihandelsabkommen unterlaufen. Deshalb bitten wir darum, dass dieser Aspekt besonders intensiv geprüft wird. Ansonsten vielen Dank – auch an die Kommission – für die Verhandlungen!


  Peter Šťastný, on behalf of the PPE-DE Group. – Mr President, let me first congratulate my colleague, the rapporteur Mr Martin, for a high-quality and comprehensive report. Our negotiators should take note of it. We should also learn from the recently completed USA-Korea FTA, which shows that speed of conclusion is important, but should not be the top priority. The main goal should clearly be to accomplish high quality and an even playing field in flows of trade. Today, those flows are still seriously impeded by non-trade barriers.

Korea does not apply international norms or labelling requirements regarding automotive products or other important products such as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and electronics. There is also a need for clarification in the area of intellectual property rights and counterfeiting. These issues need to be resolved before we sign this FTA, in order to ensure free and fair trade. Unless all these issues are resolved to our complete satisfaction, I would advise the Commission not to sign this agreement.

I admire the economic miracle of South Korea, which is reflected in the fact that it is the European Union’s fourth largest trading partner. Having a strong democracy has obviously benefited them greatly, and one has to feel sorry for their brothers and sisters in North Korea.

We should be prepared to do all we can to bring about an emotional reunion similar to the one we saw in the late 1980s between East and West Germany. This should, of course, be based on the principle of democracy, which has brought so much success to South Korea.


  Erika Mann, im Namen der PSE-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Ich möchte drei Aspekte ansprechen. Erstens würde ich mich gerne im Namen meiner Fraktion bei dem Berichterstatter David Martin bedanken. Der Bericht ist ausgesprochen sorgfältig gemacht, und er berührt tatsächlich alle Punkte, die wichtig sind und die beraten werden müssen. Er rät auch zur entsprechenden Vorsicht bei bestimmten Themen, z.B. im Automobilbereich. Insofern, glaube ich, ist es ein exzellenter Bericht, der eine gute Voraussetzung ist und von der Kommission und vom Rat entsprechend berücksichtigt werden sollte. Ich bin froh, zu hören, dass der Kommissar so sorgfältig darauf eingegangen ist.

Zweitens möchte ich den Kommissar fragen: Wie werden Ihrer Einschätzung nach die Verhandlungen mit Korea insgesamt weitergehen? Die Verhandlungen laufen ja und sind in einer sehr schwierigen Phase. Es sah am Anfang sehr viel besser aus, als wir es, glaube ich, inzwischen einschätzen sollten. Hinzu kommen natürlich auch die parallel laufenden Verhandlungen mit allen ASEAN-Staaten. Auch diese Verhandlungen sind – soweit ich es den Protokollen entnommen habe – in einer sehr schwierigen Phase. Wie schätzt die Kommission das ein? Welchen Einfluss werden die Verhandlungen, die wir zur Zeit mit den ASEAN-Staaten haben, auf die Verhandlungen mit Korea haben?

Meine letzte Frage an den Kommissar bezieht sich darauf, dass ja ausgerechnet heute am 13. Dezember die Regierungschefs den Reformvertrag unterschreiben. Im Rahmen dieses Reformvertrags wird das Parlament zukünftig sehr viel mehr Einfluss im Handelsbereich haben, wofür wir in diesem Parlament sehr lange gekämpft haben. Ich möchte mich bei der Kommission und besonders bei Kommissar Peter Mandelson dafür bedanken, dass er dies immer unterstützt hat.

Meine Frage ist aber die folgende: Können Sie sich vorstellen, dass die Kommission uns unterstützen wird, wenn wir den Rat bitten werden, dass wir im Rahmen der aufkommenden Freihandelsabkommen schon vorgezogenes Recht bekommen, dass das Parlament dann also schon die entsprechende Zustimmungspflicht erhalten wird? Können wir davon ausgehen, dass wir Sie, Herr Kommissar Peter Mandelson, dabei an unserer Seite haben?


  Ignasi Guardans Cambó, en nombre del Grupo ALDE. – Señor Presidente, también querría, en nombre de mi Grupo y de la manera más formal, felicitar al ponente David Martin por la excelente calidad del informe que presenta a esta Cámara. Realmente, no todos los informes son iguales. Es importante que, aunque aquí votemos todo tipo de documentos, destaquemos cuando algunos tienen un contenido y una solidez que permiten que sean examinados con detalle, y que cubren todos los temas que están sometidos a discusión. Por tanto, felicitaciones al ponente y al equipo que le haya acompañado para llevarlo a la práctica.

Ciertamente de Corea hablamos poco aquí, hablamos demasiado poco y, sin duda, es uno de los grandes aliados comerciales —el cuarto fuera de Europa, según recuerda el propio informe, y la Unión Europea es el primer inversor en Corea— y, a la vez, es sin duda una de las democracias más fuertes en toda esa zona.

Por tanto, si consideramos esto por un lado y, por otro lado, la dificultad en la que se encuentra el ámbito multilateral y la realidad de que hay obstáculos al acceso al mercado para los productos y servicios europeos, obstáculos no arancelarios de gran importancia, es obvio que eso lo convierte en un candidato muy claro para un acuerdo bilateral que tiene todo el apoyo de este Parlamento, pero que ha de ser un acuerdo bien realizado, bien negociado y ambicioso.

Hay dificultades en ámbitos muy específicos. Yo destacaría el tema de los servicios —que ya ha sido comentado—, el tema de la piratería intelectual, en uno de los países con mayor penetración de Internet del mundo y donde, por tanto, plantea dificultades muy concretas la poca seriedad con la que se asumen los derechos de autor y los de la protección del ámbito audiovisual.

Y, finalmente, la cuestión de Kaesong: por parte de mi Grupo, vamos a apoyar el texto tal cual está en el informe, es decir, reconocemos y entendemos el contenido político de ese espacio entre Corea del Sur y Corea del Norte, pero entendemos que podría provocar, si simplemente se introdujera en este ámbito de libre comercio con la Unión Europea, dificultades graves y, por lo tanto, no apoyaríamos una simple inclusión del espacio de Kaesong en un eventual acuerdo con la Unión Europea.


  Zbigniew Krzysztof Kuźmiuk, w imieniu grupy UEN. – Panie Przewodniczący! Zabierając głos w debacie w sprawie stosunków gospodarczych i handlowych Unii Europejskiej z Koreą, w imieniu grupy UEN, chcę zwrócić uwagę na następujące kwestie. W sytuacji, kiedy Korea podpisała umowę o wolnym handlu z krajami EFTA, SEAN, a także ze Stanami Zjednoczonymi, a nie zawarłaby takiej umowy z Unią Europejską, zmalałaby konkurencyjność europejskich firm korzystających z bezcłowego dostępu do rynku koreańskiego. Tym samym wpłynęłoby to negatywnie na poziom wzrostu gospodarczego i poziom zatrudnienia w krajach Unii.

Po drugie, według analiz przeprowadzonych przez niezależne ośrodki badawcze, w wyniku zawarcia umowy o wolnym handlu 2/3 korzyści wynikających z tej umowy uzyska Korea, a zaledwie 1/3 Unia Europejska. Konieczne jest więc, aby oprócz tej umowy Korea zawarła z Unią porozumienie, w którym ten kraj zobowiąże się do przestrzegania europejskich standardów społecznych, w szczególności podstawowych elementów związanych z godną pracą, a także standardów środowiskowych i standardów ochrony konsumentów.

Po trzecie, takie podejście daję szansę do doprowadzenia do uczciwej konkurencji pomiędzy firmami koreańskimi i europejskimi. Tylko bowiem w takim przypadku firmy koreańskie będą zawierały w kosztach wytwarzania całościowe koszty pracy, ochrony środowiska i ochrony konsumentów, a tym samym ceny ich produktów będą odzwierciedlały pełne koszty wytwarzania.


  Caroline Lucas, on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group. – Mr President, let me start by thanking Mr David Martin for his report and by underlining the crucial importance of this dossier. The EU-Korea Treaty will be the first application of the new EU trade doctrine Global Europe, a doctrine that is highly controversial, not least because it seeks such deep market access conditions through the removal of all kinds of barriers to all-out import penetration, precisely at a time when more and more people are becoming aware that there are very many losers as well as some winners in a completely liberalised global economy.

On the positive side, the report sets out some very good standards for trade and social and environmental fields, which Greens absolutely support, and in that respect I think the report sets a very important precedent for further upcoming parliamentary responses to other free trade agreements, with India and ASEAN, for example. So we welcome the fact that the report insists that there must be no exceptions to the rule that access to the European market is conditional on compliance with environmental protection standards.

We welcome the fact that it demands that the trade agreement with Korea incorporates binding social and environmental clauses and, to our mind, this by itself makes it difficult to contemplate that the North Korean Kaesong industrial complex would be included within the FTA rules. Most importantly, it intends to give teeth to those binding clauses by demanding that they are subject to the standard dispute settlement mechanism.

But we do have some serious misgivings about this report as well. First, there is the demand to scrap all non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade without any attempt at differentiating what really constitutes a legitimate NTB and what does not. We should not assume that everything that prevents unfettered free trade is an illegitimate obstacle. There are some very good reasons to qualify trade, especially when public policy wants to put in place controls for social, health or environmental reasons.

We are also opposed to the full introduction of the so-called ‘Singapore issues’ into the free trade agreement. Again there are good reasons why total investment freedom or public procurement should remain outside the scope of a trade agreement. Korea had a devastating experience with the free flow of capital in the late 1990s and they have used sheltered public procurement policies to get back on their feet since then. Now, it is not up to us to judge whether they should offer those items on their side, but we are allowed to judge for our side, and my Group does not support giving unlimited freedom to foreign investors in Europe or destroying the possibility of engaging in public spending for social goals through specific domestic procurement policies.


  Philip Claeys (NI). – Voorzitter, Zuid-Korea is een van de belangrijkste handelspartners van de Europese Unie buiten Europa, wat in dit evenwichtige verslag duidelijk benadrukt wordt. Het is een land dat sympathie opwekt door het nabuurschap met het achterlijkste en meest totalitaire communistische regime ter wereld.

De handelsbetrekkingen zijn de jongste jaren fors gegroeid, wat op zich een zeer positieve zaak is, maar dat betekent niet dat er geen problemen zijn. Als we met Zuid-Korea een vrijhandelsovereenkomst sluiten, dan moet dat gebaseerd zijn op volledige wederkerigheid. Er bestaan in Zuid-Korea nog veel te veel tarifaire en non-tarifaire belemmeringen om echt van wederkerigheid te kunnen spreken.

Er moet van Europese zijde worden aangedrongen op het wegwerken van al die belemmeringen en we moeten minstens even voordelige afspraken kunnen maken als die van de vrijhandelsovereenkomst tussen Zuid-Korea, enerzijds, en de Verenigde Staten, anderzijds.


  Hubert Pirker (PPE-DE). – Herr Präsident! Als Leiter der Delegation für die Beziehungen des Europaparlaments zur Halbinsel Korea möchte ich dem Berichterstatter ausdrücklich gratulieren und sagen, dass ich diesen Bericht sehr gerne unterstütze.

Ich möchte auch betonen, was viele nach wie vor nicht wissen, dass die Republik Korea ein wichtiger Handelspartner ist. Genau aus diesem Grund ist es wichtig, dass wir zu einem Freihandelsabkommen gelangen. Ziel dieses Abkommens muss es sein, dass es faire und gerechte Handelsbedingungen zum beiderseitigen Vorteil und zum beiderseitigen Nutzen gibt.

Ich kann auch sagen, dass es mich freut, dass die Verhandlungen in der fünften Runde wesentlich besser gelaufen sind als noch in der vierten Runde. Ich möchte Korea ermutigen, die EU-Vorschläge für ein rascheres und beidseitiges Abschaffen der Einfuhrzölle zu unterstützen. Das Ziel der Union dafür wäre das Jahr 2015.

Wie wir alle wissen, ist und bleibt der Kraftfahrzeugsektor die Herausforderung bei den Verhandlungen. Was wir als Europäische Union erwarten, ist, dass die Sicherheitsnormen, die wir haben, von der Republik Korea akzeptiert werden, so wie wir auch die Normen Koreas auf diesem Sektor akzeptieren.

Ich bin optimistisch, dass die Barrieren im Bereich der pharmazeutischen Produkte und im Dienstleistungssektor, insbesondere im Bankwesen oder im Bereich der Rechtsberatung, beseitigt werden können. Bezüglich Kaesŏng möchte ich sagen, dass es bedeutsam wäre, dass die Verhandlungspartner einen Weg finden, der das Projekt Kaesŏng und weitere Projekte unterstützt, und zwar aus wirtschaftlichen und aus politischen Gründen, insbesondere um Nordkorea an die internationale Staatengemeinschaft heranzuführen.

Insgesamt sind wir auf einem guten Weg, und ich hoffe, dass es zu einem Abschluss am Beginn oder in der ersten Hälfte des Jahres 2008 kommt.


  Kader Arif (PSE). – Monsieur le Président, je tiens tout d'abord à remercier David Martin pour la qualité de son rapport. Dans le cadre de la négociation de ce futur accord commercial avec la Corée, nous devons rappeler que notre priorité doit rester le multilatéralisme car nous savons que la prolifération excessive d'accords bilatéraux nuit à l'édifice multilatéral régulé auquel nous adhérons. C'est pourquoi, si nous passons à une nouvelle ère d'accords commerciaux bilatéraux, ces derniers doivent comporter des garanties et des principes dont certains sont repris dans le rapport David Martin.

En effet, le futur accord de libre-échange avec la Corée doit présenter un caractère moderne et inclure des normes environnementales et sociales contraignantes telles que celles inscrites dans les conventions fondamentales de l'OIT qui visent à promouvoir le travail décent.

Par ailleurs, suite à l'engagement de notre Parlement pour permettre un meilleur accès aux médicaments génériques, je me félicite qu'y aient été incluses les dispositions relatives à la santé publique et que soit respectée notre volonté de ne pas inclure dans les accords bilatéraux des demandes qui limiteraient la capacité de nos partenaires à faire usage des flexibilités prévues dans l'accord atypique de la déclaration de Doha.

Par contre, malgré ses points positifs, il n'est pas acceptable que ce texte ne fasse pas référence au sort réservé aux travailleurs de la zone franche de Kacacsong, comme le souhaitait notre rapporteur, et ceci je le déplore.


  Bogusław Rogalski (UEN). – Panie Przewodniczący! Korea jest jedną z czołowych gospodarek świata, ale jednocześnie charakteryzuje się najwyższą różnicą dochodów spośród państw OECD. Korea to czwarty pod względem wielkości partner handlowy Unii spoza Europy, natomiast Unia w 2006 roku była największym inwestorem zagranicznym w Korei.

Głównym problemem w naszych bilateralnych stosunkach handlowych jest utrudnianie dostępu do rynku poprzez bariery pozataryfowe, w tym brak przyjętych norm i standardów międzynarodowych. Umowa o wolnym handlu z Koreą powinna uwzględniać ochronę inwestycji zagranicznych, politykę konkurencji, przejrzystość zamówień publicznych oraz ułatwienia w handlu.

Ale pamiętać też trzeba, że ta umowa może mieć negatywny wpływ na europejski przemysł motoryzacyjny, stąd też Komisja musi rozważnie rozpatrywać strategię stopniowego znoszenia ceł importowych Unii. Najpierw powinny zostać usunięte bariery pozataryfowe po stronie koreańskiej, aby nie okazało się, że jedynym beneficjentem tej współpracy jest tylko Korea.


  Glyn Ford (PSE). – Mr President, I wish to join with the other speakers in congratulating Mr Martin on his report on a free trade agreement with South Korea, which is the EU’s fourth largest trading partner outside Europe and the world’s eleventh largest economy.

I want to deal briefly with two issues. Firstly, the opposition of trade union and farmers’ groups to the free trade agreement with Korea and, secondly, the case of the industrial zone. In the first case, we need to place the opposition in perspective. Thousands demonstrated against the US agreement with Korea and a number of people burnt themselves to death. Rather than thousands, we have only dozens protesting, possibly because we are attempting to include in our free trade agreement an associated political cooperation agreement – social, political and labour clauses that will help protect labour standards in the south and may well enhance them. At the same time, we will not have the discussion over rice which Korea had with the United States.

With respect to Kaesong, we are not arguing that this should be included. We are arguing that we should not automatically exclude it. That is a rather different position, and I hope that on that basis the Liberals will be able to change the way they vote. As the former Prime Minister of Jamaica once said, the only thing worse than being exploited is not being exploited. Some of us had the opportunity to visit Kaesong last month, as part of an EU workshop on economic reform held in North Korea. I saw thousands of happy North Koreans flooding from the zone, smartly dressed, because they have standards of living six times higher than in the North. This is an opportunity, politically and economically, to actually change that regime and move things in the right direction. Kaesong can transform the North and, allowing for the difficulties, should be encouraged and not killed.


  Peter Mandelson, Member of the Commission. Mr President, let me make three brief points. First of all, on the issue of Kaesong, I think that Mr Ford’s formulation – that we should not automatically exclude Kaesong – is the right approach to take. We in the Commission will be very prudent on this subject, but I think, on that basis, the amendment is probably a worthwhile one.

Secondly, I was asked about the overall prospects for the negotiation. Well, in this job I have not discovered a trade negotiation that is not in some difficulty. However, I would say that this negotiation is in less difficulty than some other trade negotiations I could identify.

Lastly, Ms Mann asks whether the European Parliament can obtain rights earlier than the Treaty ratification in respect of this agreement. When asked about this in a different context, I overstepped my collective Commission responsibility in my enthusiasm, so today I shall be a little bit more careful and simply stress that we will seek to involve Parliament as much as possible.



  Presidente. La discussione è chiusa.

La votazione si svolgerà oggi alle 11.30.



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