The 15th Senior Officials' Meeting between the European Union and Thailand took place on 28 October 2020 via videoconference.
Senior Officials discussed a wide range of issues of mutual interest, including recent developments in bilateral relations as well as global and regional issues. Discussions were held in an excellent atmosphere and covered in particular COVID-19 response measures, trade relations, climate change, connectivity, sustainable development and environmental issues, including ocean governance, as well as human rights, migration, and labour issues.
The EU and Thailand emphasised that the COVID-19 pandemic is a global crisis that is reshaping our world and requires a coordinated international response.
The meeting took stock of the progress achieved towards the signature of the EU-Thailand Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA).
On 14 October 2019, the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) decided that it was appropriate for the EU to take steps towards broadening its engagement with Thailand, including on issues of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic pluralism, by preparing for the timely signature of the PCA. EU Foreign Ministers also considered it appropriate for the EU to take steps towards the resumption of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
They agreed that the October 2019 EU Foreign Affairs Council Conclusions constituted an important milestone for their bilateral relations and confirmed their willingness to enhance the level of bilateral engagement.
In this context, discussions reiterated the critical importance of upholding human rights, including the fundamental freedoms of assembly, expression and the media, not least in the light of the current protests in Thailand. The EU underlined that the remaining detained protesters need to be granted due process and treated in accordance with the international law and standards governing the treatment of detainees.
Participants welcomed the Thailand - EU labour dialogue as an excellent forum for exchanging views on labour matters of common interest.
The EU and Thailand reaffirmed their commitment to continue cooperating and sharing experiences in the fight against illegal fishing (IUU).
Participants reiterated their support for upgrading EU-ASEAN relations to a strategic partnership, as agreed by EU-ASEAN Foreign Ministers in January 2019. The EU also expressed appreciation for Thailand’s commitment to the ASEAN-EU Dialogue on Sustainable Development as a core element of ASEAN-EU relations.
The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Sasiwat Wongsinsawat, Director-General of the Department of European Affairs, Royal Thai Foreign Ministry, and by Ms Paola Pampaloni, Deputy Managing Director, Asia and the Pacific, European External Action Service.