In the early years, our efforts focused on helping the country tackle the challenges of emerging from years of war: rebuilding infrastructure and communications, increasing agricultural production, relocating displaced persons, and clearing land of millions of land mines.
Over time, EU-Cambodia cooperation has evolved. EU cooperation in Cambodia is designed to support the Royal Government of Cambodia's policies, as reflected in the Royal Government's Rectangular Strategy and the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP). Poverty alleviation and meeting basic needs remains an overarching priority, which is furthered through initiatives on good governance, democratic participation and decentralization, human rights, rule of law, gender equality, land rights, education, vocational training, health, sanitation, rural development, agriculture, food security, environment and climate change as well as public finance management support and trade-related technical assistance.
EU funding is provided entirely in the form of grants. The European Development Cooperation Strategy for Cambodia 2014-2019. Currently the EU, working under "Joint Programming" together with nine EU Member States and Switzerland, is the country’s largest grant development assistance provider, with total funding estimated at €1.4 billion for 2014-2019. The greatest share of this assistance is channelled through bilateral cooperation between the EU and the Royal Government of Cambodia, as set out in the Multiannual Indicative Programme 2014-2020.
The MIP identifies 3 sectors that EU development cooperation focuses on: 1) Agriculture and natural resource management, with a focus on fisheries and aquaculture; 2) Basic education and skills development; and 3) Governance and administration, which focuses on support for Government reforms particularly on Public Finance Management, Sub-National Democratic Development, and Elections as well as including support for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC).
The MIP 2014-2020 allocates up to €410 million to Cambodia, more than double the financial support provided in the previous 7-year period. While the implementation of the MIP 2014-2020 started in 2015, support under the 2007-2013 MIP is continuing.
In addition to bilateral cooperation, Cambodia benefits from regional cooperation programmes in support of ASEAN. A new EU blending facility for the Asian region opened in 2011 (Asian Investment Facility – AIF), offering a possibility to top up development projects led by European financing institutions, in partnership with other financing institutions, governments, private sector or other development actors, with an additional EU AIF grant. Projects falling under AIF priorities for Cambodia are eligible for AIF funding. Moreover Cambodia is benefiting from the EU Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA). In 2014-2020, Cambodian civil society organisations are able to bid for funds under the civil society organisations (CSO) and local authorities (LA) budgets as well as those under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
A key development partner
The EU is Cambodia's biggest development partner in terms of grant aid. EU donors currently active in Cambodia include Belgium, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom and the European Commission. In 2016, EU Member States and the EU paid out €151.87 million in support of Cambodia's development agenda (source: database of the Council for the Development of Cambodia).
Towards more effective development cooperation
European partners have a joint Roadmap for Engagement with Civil Society 2014-2019 which sets out commitments to structuring dialogue with civil society, supporting civil society efforts to enhance accountability and transparency and further strengthening the enabling environment for civil society. Additionally, the EU has developed a joint Gender Action Plan 2016-2020, which focuses on European action on preventing violence against women; supporting nutrition for girls and women; equal access to education and TVET; equal access to decent work and productive resources; and equal participation in policy and governance processes. The EU also recognizes that the Sustainable Development Goals are increasingly complex and will require meaningful cross-sector engagement and coordination, which is the approach towards development of the new European Consensus on Development agreed by EU Member States in 2017.
Sectors of Cooperation
(1) Agriculture/Natural resource management
While agriculture still remains the first sector of employment, poverty is most widespread in rural areas and among ethnic minority groups. For the period 2014-2020, the EU has programmed €112 million to this sector.
EU support aims at promoting the sustainable development of the agriculture sector, with a focus on promoting sustainable livestock and aquaculture production, and managing sustainably the country's inland and marine fisheries. In 2017, the EU delegated to the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the management of a €25 million funding to the aquaculture sector. Addressing nutrition and food security is also an integrated component in EU support to the agricultural sector. At the same time, through thematic programmes, the EU seeks to ensure the sustainable management of natural resources, including forests, biodiversity and coastal areas.
The EU promotes a human rights-based holistic approach to land distribution and supports communal land titling for indigenous people through OHCHR.
For more information on the agriculture sector in Cambodia, click here
The EU is strongly committed to supporting education in developing countries as it plays an essential role in forging citizenship and democracy as well as reducing poverty. Three decades of conflict left Cambodia without a formal education system, with few teachers and a limited number of functioning schools. As early as 2000, the European Commission and a number of EU countries began to focus on the education sector by building schools, training teachers and helping the Ministry of Education Youth and Sport (MoEYS) to re-structure. In the early 2000's, the MoEYS launched a major overhaul of the education sector, the Education Strategic Plan (ESP). Since 2003, the EU has supported this sector-wide approach through the use of budget support. An important share of EU support to the education sector is provided to the Royal Government of Cambodia through annual transfers to the national treasury in recognition of progress made in education and the management of public funds.
Our fourth budget support programme - EU-Cambodia Education Sector Reform Partnership (ESRP) - covered the period 2014-2017 with an amount of €77.3 million (€68.5 million for budget support and €7.8million for the phase 2 of the Education Capacity Development Partnership Fund (CDPF), a multi-donor fund managed by UNICEF, that ended in 31 December 2017).
The fifth budget support programme EU-Cambodia Education Sector Reform Partnership (ESRP) covers 2018-2021 and aims to support the Royal Government of Cambodia financially and technically in the implementation of its Education Strategic Plans (ESP) with particular attention to ensure inclusive and equitable high-quality education, with a focus on Early Childhood Education and Basic Education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all; and for an effective leadership and management of education staff at all levels of the education system.
The fifth ESRP indicative amount of €100 million (€89million for budget support and €11milliion for complementary measures, mainly contributing to the CDPF programme to be managed by UNICEF) is the largest programme ever funded by the EU in Cambodia.
Within this programme, the EU provides support to the MoEYS to achieve the objectives of the Education Strategic Plans and support the implementation Sustainable Development Goal 4 (Education Roadmap 2030). This programme is expected to generate significant, sustainable, and nation-wide improvements in education, benefiting in particular the 3 million children in basic education.
For more information on the education sector in Cambodia, click here
(3) Governance and Administration
Public Finance Management
The Public Finance Management Reform Programme is one of the priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia’s (RGC) “Rectangular Strategy” for growth, employment, equity and efficiency in Cambodia. The programme aims to transform the public financial management system of the RGC toward international standards by 2025. Strengthening Cambodia’s public financial management is an essential component in building confidence among donors to channel more aid through government systems in a coordinated manner.
The EU is committed to progressively increase the use of the RGC’s own systems for channelling support. The European Commission and Sweden (SIDA) pooled €20 million to support implementation of stage 2 of Cambodia’s PFM reform programme for the period 2012- 2016, and a further €33 million for the period 2017-2020. This support will mainly focus on enhancing the capacity of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and other ministries in implementing the PFM reform.
Sub-National Democratic Development
Poverty reduction through sustainable and inclusive economic growth is still a challenging issue in Cambodia. Good governance, as a pre-condition to sustainable economic development, requires participation, enhanced information sharing, accountability, transparency, equality, inclusiveness and the rule of law. Two reforms remain crucial to the development of Cambodia: the Legal and Judicial reform; and the Sub-National Democratic Development (or decentralisation and de-concentration) reform.
The Sub-National Democratic Development (SNDD) reform provides a unique opportunity for increasing civic engagement. Within the governance sector the de-centralisation reform has received to-date the largest bilateral contribution from the EU. The EU has been supporting Cambodia's local governance reform through the 15-million EUR programme "EU Support to Sub-National Democratic Development" alongside contributions from Sweden and Germany. A Phase II of the EU support programme was launched in 2017. Support to de-centralisation and de-concentration builds upon the EU's previous Democratic Decentralised Local Governance project (DDLG) to which the EU contributed €10 million.
Support to the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC)
EU support to good governance, the rule of law and human rights in Cambodia also includes a political and financial commitment to promote international justice and the national reconciliation process in Cambodia. The EU has been supporting the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) since 2007 with a total contribution of over EUR 25 million to date. The EU and the EU Member States combined are the second largest contributor to the Court to-date after Japan.
The EU has been providing substantial financial and technical support to the electoral process in Cambodia since its second National Assembly elections in 1998 as part of its global agenda to promote democratic processes around the world.
From 2016 the EU provided €10 million to support the electoral reform process in Cambodia. This support included the purchase of voter registration equipment for the National Election Committee, technical support and support to civil society organizations. Support for the National Election Committee was suspended in December 2017 in the light of political developments.
Additional areas of intervention
Democracy and Human Rights
Human rights and democratisation issues are at the heart of the EU agenda, as outlined in the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy (2015). The EU has made human rights a central aspect of its external relations: in the political dialogues it holds with third countries; through its development policy and assistance; and through its action in multilateral fora such as the United Nations.
To implement EU human rights policy, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) was established in 2006. The EIDHR programme aims to support civil society initiatives and back their contribution to democracy.
Since 2003, 72 human rights projects have been funded under this programme in Cambodia for a total amount of €20.5 million (approximately $24.6 million). Those projects have been implemented throughout the country, and aimed at the promotion of human rights, democracy and rule of law in Cambodia with particular focus on: land rights, elections, gender and women in politics, freedom of expression, independent media, human trafficking and support for human rights defenders.
In Cambodia the EU supports local development and governance projects through the Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities (CSO/LA) programme by funding international and local NGOs as well as Local Authorities for a total amount of €18.5 million for 34 projects (7 of them implemented directly by Cambodian Local Authorities) aimed at enhancing the capacity of the local administration in the delivery of services to Cambodian citizens, supporting indigenous people's land security, agriculture and rural development, community livestock, forest management, vocational training, primary health care and sanitation.
Trade and Private Sector Development
The trade-related assistance (TRA) that the EU provides to Cambodia forms part of the EU’s commitment under the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), the global TRA programme for LDCs. Cambodia is benefiting from this fund to build trade capacity and promote the diversification and expansion of new export sectors (silk, fisheries, tourism). The EU is the largest donor of trade-related assistance in Cambodia. The successful Trade Development Support Programme (€11.65 channelled through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund with the EU as the main contributor) responded specifically to the country's needs in trade policy formulation, regulation, trade facilitation, and capacity building. The Programme contributed to key regulatory reforms, as well as a very ambitious programme for automating trade facilitation.
Future EU trade-related assistance will be provided through regional programme funds and will focus on strengthening Cambodia's regional integration, by ensuring Cambodia's commitments to ASEAN and WTO, and further improving trade facilitation.
Food Security and Nutrition
Cambodia had made impressive progress in the fight against child stunting, though critical challenges still remain and the child stunting rate is 32.4% (2014).
The EU Food and Nutrition Security Impact, Resilience, Sustainability and Transformation (FIRST) is a facility that provides governments with policy assistance and capacity development support. The aim of the programme is to facilitate policy dialogue around food, nutrition security and sustainable agriculture. The EU - FIRST programme for Cambodia (2016-2018) is supporting the Council for Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) on Capacity Development and mainstreaming food security and nutrition in agriculture sectors.
The EU concentrates its resources on food security in the fisheries and livestock sector by supporting poverty reduction in most vulnerable households.
Climate Change and the Environment
Cambodia is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change and is subject to flooding and drought on a seasonal basis. Rising temperatures are likely to increase the variability of rainfall patterns and intensity of weather events. The most vulnerable provinces in Cambodia are Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri which have the highest concentration of indigenous people whose livelihoods are highly dependent on natural resources.
In 2007, the EU created a Global Climate Change Alliance with developing countries hardest hit by climate change. The objective of this alliance is to help developing countries increase their capacities to cope with the effects of climate change. It is also designed to ensure that the voice of developing countries is better heard in climate change negotiations.
The Cambodia Climate Change Alliance (CCCA) is an alliance between the Government, the EU, Sweden (Sida) and UNDP, with UNDP also providing technical support. The CCCA is a comprehensive and innovative approach to addressing climate change in Cambodia. On the one hand, it aims at creating conditions in the form of capacity development and institutional strengthening to prepare for and mitigate climate change risks, and, on the other, to directly help vulnerable communities by enhancing their resilience to climate change and other natural hazards. The EU is the largest contributor with € 6,000,000 to the current phase of CCCA (2014 – 2019).
In parallel, the EU Delegation supports projects promoting the role of civil society and local communities in the forestry sector. The EU's partnership with WWF for the project "Advancing CSO's Capacity to Enhance Sustainability Solutions" aims at sustainable management of forests, biodiversity protection and the promotion of rural livelihoods in the Eastern Plains.
Finally, the EU Delegation also coordinates closely with Cambodia on FLEGT (Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade). Cambodia has expressed an initial interest to be more engaged in FLEGT dialogue.
The EU believes that gender equality is essential for growth and poverty reduction. Women suffer disproportionately from poverty and its related ills, such as malnutrition, poor health and illiteracy. In Cambodia, through non-government organisations, the EU supports the Gender Strategic Plan 2014-2018 (Neary Rattanak IV) which focuses on economic growth and economic empowerment; access to social services and protection; and issues including women in public decision making and politics; and gender and climate change, green growth and disaster risk management.
The EU Gender Action Plan (GAP) for Cambodia (2016-2020), prepared jointly with EU Member States, stresses the need for the full realisation of equal enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. The objectives of the GAP retained as priorities for Cambodia draw from the priorities of the Royal Government of Cambodia's Gender Strategic Plan - Neary Rattanak 4.
The EU has supported 11 gender related projects in Cambodia with funds amounting to a total of €4.5 million over the last 7 years. The main activities of these projects include empowerment of women through grassroots activism; gender sensitive approach and general understanding on gender issues; enhancing livelihoods for girls through advocacy, training and empowerment; addressing and awareness raising on violence against women; improving food security for households; support to female commune councillors.
Gender Action Plan 2016-2020
Promoting the inclusion of People with Disabilities
According to the 2014 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey, Cambodian people with disabilities represent 9.5% of the total population (including any level of functioning difficulty), and 2.1% suffer from a severe disability. The EU is committed to ensuring the full and equal inclusion of persons with disabilities and their families in EU development cooperation initiatives - leaving no-one behind. The EU has supported three disability related projects for a total budget of €1.5 million since 2011. These projects have been implemented by non-governmental organizations.
Inclusion and rights