Cambodia & the EU
The European Union (EU) has long enjoyed a close relationship with Cambodia. Through substantial development assistance, support to the democratic processes and a commitment to open markets the EU has helped Cambodia in its efforts to build a brighter future for its population and to play an active role on the regional and international stages.
At the heart of the relationship is the EU-Cambodia Cooperation Agreement. This provides the framework for relations, setting out areas in which cooperation will take place and formalizing the commitment of the two parties. A Joint Committee held every two years in Brussels and Phnom Penh allows the EU and the Royal Government of Cambodia to formulate recommendations and set priorities. Collaboration also takes place on the regional and international stage through fora such as ASEAN and ASEM.
Partners in development
Over the years, EU-Cambodia cooperation activities have touched the lives of millions of Cambodians. EU development cooperation programmes involve Cambodians from all walks of life and take place in sectors ranging from education and rural development to governance, public finance management, private sector development and climate change. The EU is Cambodia’s largest partner in terms of development assistance, in 2010, the EU (Member States and the European Commission) planned to disburse some € 206.5 million (over US$ 255.8 million) in support of Cambodia's development agenda. The EU is also committed to ensuring more effective aid and that Cambodia is better placed to lead its own development process.
A commitment to democracy and human rights
A respect for democracy and human rights is fundamental to EU-Cambodia relations. The EU supports a wide range of human rights initiatives carried out by Cambodian NGOs and other Civil Society Organisations and has also observed national and commune elections while providing support to the election process.
The Union promotes trade to drive development by keeping its markets open to exports from least-developed countries. All products from Cambodia (except arms) enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the EU. This has benefited the garments, footwear and textiles industries which accounted for almost 90% of Cambodian exports to the EU in 2006. But goods of light manufacturing and increasingly rice are also being exported. Technical support and training is also provided to help Cambodia take advantage of the opportunities offered by international trade, including the EU’s huge single market.
Cultural and educational exchange
The EU-Cambodia relationship is about more than just trade and development. EU Member States' Embassies and cultural institutions - such as the Centre Culturel Français du Cambodge, and British Council - actively promote cultural exchange. The Delegation of the European Union works alongside them to organise various events such as the annual EU Film Festival. Educational links are also important with both the EU Member States and the European Commission offering scholarships to study in Europe.
EU diplomatic presence
A number of EU Member States have embassies in Cambodia, while a European Commission Delegation opened in 2002, underlining the Commission's commitment to reinforcing cooperation and trade links with the country. In December 2009, the European Commission Delegation became the European Union Delegation following the entering into force of the Lisbon Treaty.