Under the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament is required to give its consent on the EU's trade agreements and to be co-legislator on trade matters with the Council. The Safeguard Regulation, that accompanies the EU-South Korea FTA, is the first major co-decision file on trade in which the EP was involved. This was also adopted today [with 495 MEPs voting in favour].
Today's votes pave the way for the provisional application of the agreement as of 1 July 2011. The EU Member States will have to ratify the agreement according to their own laws and procedures before conclusion, which might take place in several years' time. This will however not affect the provisional application of the FTA.
In terms of tariffs, South Korea and the EU will eliminate 98.7% of duties in trade value for both industrial and agricultural products within 5 years from the entry into force of the FTA. The remaining products, with a few exceptions in the agricultural sector, will become duty free over longer transitional periods, i.e. periods during which the tariffs will be phased out. This is the most ambitious trade coverage ever achieved in a FTA negotiated by the EU.