In October 2009, after a series of controversial talks, the EU and South Korea initialled (provisionally signed) the FTA they had been negotiating for just over two years. The agreement was then approved by the Member States in October 2010, ratified by the EP in February 2011 and implemented in July 2011. The importance of the EU-Korea FTA lies in that it serves as the most visible expression so far of the ‘Global Europe’ communication and is widely held up as the EU’s most ambitious trade agreement to date (see, for example, European Commission 2013c). As I noted in Chapter 3, ‘Global Europe’ emphasised negotiating bilateral trade agreements containing strong regulatory and services provisions with emerging East and South Asian economies. It also implicitly targeted Europe’s few remaining pockets of protection, seeking reciprocal concessions where EU firms were competitive. In both of these respects, the EU-Korea FTA is a case in point, obtaining substantial gains for European service suppliers and investors in South Korea in exchange for a significant opening of the automobile sector, still reeling from the effects of the economic crisis.
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