South Korea and the European Union (EU) signed a horizontal aviation agreement on June 25.
The agreement will allow "any EU airline to fly to the Republic of Korea from each EU member state, which has a bilateral air services agreement with the Republic of Korea".
Traditionally, in these bilateral air services agreements, only airlines owned and controlled by a given member state or its nationals may fly between that member state and a third country.
At present, 22 EU member states have bilateral air services agreements with South Korea.
"The conclusion of the Horizontal Agreement offers important opportunities to other EU airlines and is therefore beneficial to airlines on both sides," a statement from the European Commission dated June 24 said.
Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “At a time when international air transport — severely hit by the COVID-19 crisis — is slowly picking up, the signature of such a Horizontal Agreement provides hope for the future with more opportunities to develop long-haul services towards the Korean market. It further shows that international cooperation is an essential driver to the recovery of the aviation market.”
The leaders are also expected to reiterate their joint commitment to working towards establishing a High-Level Transport Dialogue between the EU and the Republic of Korea across all modes of transport.
Both the European Union and the Republic of Korea will now proceed with their respective internal procedures to put the conclusion of the agreement in place.