Members of the European Commission and the European External Action Service (EEAS) visited Cambodia between July 5 and 11 to evaluate the labour and human rights situation. The country is getting ready for general election on July 29 and critics allege corruption by elite as the ruling party cracks down on critics.

“The EU is proud to provide the most economically vulnerable countries of the world with free access to our market,” said Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström. “The Everything But Arms initiative has had a significant impact on development and poverty eradication in Cambodia. Nevertheless, the recent worrying developments in the country have called for a closer assessment of whether Cambodia is fulfilling its commitments.”

According to Malmström, the discussions and information gathering during our EU mission have focused on the serious decline in the area of political and electoral rights, as well as a curbing of civil society activities.

“There are also deficiencies when it comes to land dispute resolution mechanisms, and serious threats to freedom of association and collective bargaining rights. In the trade policy of the European Union, social justice is a vital aspect, including the respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and labour standards.”

The EU delegation met with several members of the Cambodian government, as well as trade unions, civil society, businesses, and the United Nations and International Labour Organisation (ILO) representatives in the country.

“Following the fact-finding mission, we will now analyse the facts in detail, and consider further steps. Removing Cambodia from the trade scheme is a measure of last resort, if all our other efforts have failed to address these concerns,” said Malmström.