Relations between Brussels and Phnom Penh deepen, taking advantage of the ASEAN rotating presidency.
Relations between the European Union and Cambodia took another step forward at the Cambodia-EU Joint Committee meeting held in Phnom Penh last week. The meeting, chaired by Luy David, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, and Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Director General for Asia and the Pacific of the EU, addressed several topics: the invasion of Ukraine, global economic trends, climate change, the political situation in Myanmar and the EU-ASEAN strategic partnership. The EU confirmed its full support for Cambodia's chairmanship of ASEAN in 2022 and the appointment of Prak Sokhonn - Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation - as ASEAN's Special Envoy to Myanmar. Then, the group on institutional strengthening addressed the broad topic of human rights development, analyzing it from different perspectives: from civil and political rights to the right to work, from human trafficking to gender equality. In view of this year's municipal elections in Cambodian cities, the EU did not fail to stress the importance of democratic pluralism, human rights and fundamental freedoms. The parties also discussed economic recovery measures, and the development of bilateral trade relations, including the temporary partial withdrawal of EU trade preferences under the European Banking Authority. The importance of improving the business environment by introducing new regulations to investments and diversifying the Cambodian economy was discussed. Finally, the implementation of the new EU Multi-Year Indicative Cooperation Program for 2021-2024 was discussed. This €155 million program aims at intervening in three main fields: ecological transition, education and training, and good governance, in line with the UN Agenda 2030 goals.