The Republic of South Korea is one of the priority partners of the European Union (EU) in the global economy. The impressive economic and technological progress South Korea has been demonstrating for last several decades has brought the country to the forefront of the world’s powerhouses. The Korean economy is now the 12th largest in the world, one of the strongest “Asian tigers” and a key trade & investments partner for Europe.
More importantly, this progress is firmly rooted in the principles of the “knowledge-based economy” that South Korea is consistently pursuing. Korean RTD (Research and Technology Development) expenditures are above 4% of the country’s GDP, well above Europe and the OECD average. Korea is among the world’s most technologically advanced and digitally connected countries. It is second in the world in broadband width per capita and has the 4th largest among OECD countries Internet users population. Korea is a recognized market leader in electronics, mobile communication and the automotive sector.
The first contact between Korean and European researchers and Science and Technology (S&T) authorities was established in the 1990s. And the importance of EU-Korean S&T cooperation for both parties was recognized. This resulted in the inclusion of this area in EU-Korean Framework Agreement on Trade and Cooperation, which came into effect in April 2001. In FP6, Korean participation in European research was visibly growing, supported by the joint efforts aimed at setting up the cooperation facilitation infrastructure – a network of Korean NCPs. There are currently 9 NCPs covering all major research areas of common interests. In November 2006, a new breakthrough in S&T cooperation was marked when The Agreement on S&T Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of Korea and the European Community was signed. The principle of reciprocity in providing access to RTD programs of the Parties is a new commitment that is crucial to building fair and mutually beneficial S&T cooperation.