Interview with Her Excellency Carmen Moreno, Ambassador of the European Union to Cambodia
- 12 May, 2023
- Posted by: EuroCham Cambodia
This week, we interviewed Her Excellency Carmen Moreno, EU Ambassador to Cambodia, about the EU's growing ties to Cambodia and the important role youths play in shaping the country's future.
EuroCham: This Tuesday was Europe Day, a good time to reflect on Cambodian-EU relations. Where would you like to see more cooperation and more active engagement between the EU and Cambodia?
H.E. Moreno: The cooperation between the European Union and Cambodia is already very wide and has evolved over the years, from a bilateral engagement framework to a wider multilateral cooperation. This has enhanced relations to include new and more diverse aspects, both in the context of the post-pandemic recovery, and management of international and regional conflicts.
We have worked together in the framework of the EU-ASEAN Strategic Partnership and we have cooperated in other fora, such as UN or ASEAN. Europe continues to be one of the most important markets for Cambodian exports, and the European Union and Member States, as well as Team Europe, continue to be one of the biggest donors in terms of grants, while we have been growing in our loan portfolio to support public investment.
Our current cooperation program (2021-2027) was developed in consultation with the Government and in support of the upcoming graduation from the LDC status, expected for 2027. Our programmes will focus on promoting green growth and decent jobs, both in agriculture and industry, to reinforce access to export markets. Education and skills remain a priority and are essential to increase Cambodia’s competitiveness and provide better employment opportunities for the population.
Finally, we will continue working on strengthening good governance, by strongly supporting public finance management reform. Cooperation with Civil Society is another important foundation of our bilateral engagement. We continue to work with the very vibrant and rich civil society organisations, to promote participation and increase accountability, transparency and equality in the provision of public services. There is a very solid and comprehensive cooperation between the European Union and Cambodia that we hope will continue to grow in the coming years.
EuroCham: EuroCham collaborated with the EU Delegation on A Night out in Europe – an event to launch the Central & Eastern European Business Association and celebrate European culture. Do you see any particular areas of opportunity that exist between that region and Cambodia, commercial or otherwise?
H.E. Moreno: The launching of the Central & Eastern European Business Association shows the growing interests of European companies in Cambodia. To sustain growth in the coming years, Cambodia will need to increase its connectivity to the region and to international value chains. Cambodia must develop its infrastructure, trade connectivity, and competitiveness and attract higher-value foreign investment into the country to secure continued access to the most demanding markets, such as the European market. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities for European investors and for the EU to continue working with Cambodia to increase competitiveness, adapt to the requirements of carbon-neutral markets, and attract higher value investment.
EuroCham: We’re looking forward to participating in Youth Day on 25 May at the EU Delegation. Could you tell us a little bit about the event and how it promotes youth empowerment?
H.E. Moreno: This year we will launch our Youth Sounding Board (YSB). We have selected a group of sixteen committed and dedicated young Cambodians, that will work with us to provide a youth perspective into our work. Cambodia has a very young population, and we want that this YSB will support us in reaching out to them, to understand better their needs and hopes for the future. We will dedicate this Europe Day to explore with our partners and visitors how the Youth can contribute to create a green future, through their individual actions and through their communities. We will reflect on the potential for youth initiatives and contributions and we will launch a challenge to our YSB and friends over the coming weeks. Stay tuned to our social media, where we will be presenting the Board, the challenge, and their proposals and contributions.
EuroCham: The Youth Sounding Board is a very interesting new initiative that allows Cambodian youth to dive into the world of international diplomacy. What do you expect of the programme and how do you see it evolving?
H.E. Moreno: Youth empowerment is a top priority for the European Union, and particularly for the Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, who has encouraged the creation of these Youth Boards, to involve young people in the shaping and implementation of policies and external action. We are still in the initial stages of this initiative in Cambodia. We want to start by providing a space to the YSB members for presenting their perspectives and proving their capacity to change things and have an impact with their friends and communities, through action and engagement.
We would also like to provide a space for these young people to network and discuss youth perspectives with other groups. We aim to provide tools and knowledge that would allow them to understand better the policies that affect them and their implementation, and for that we will seek the collaboration of all our partners, European Member States, EuroCham, the UN family, government and civil society. Finally, we also want to facilitate engagement with young entrepreneurs and companies, fostering innovation in the country, to facilitate understanding of all the possible ways for the youth to engage and contribute. .
EuroCham: You have long been a champion for green initiatives and sustainable development. Is Cambodia on the right track and what major changes would you like to see to improve the situation?
H.E. Moreno: The RGC has already made significant advances in key policies such as the National Energy Efficiency Policy, and the new Power Development Plan, where they set targets for higher use of renewable energies; and the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), where they set targets for the reduction of GHG emissions. Cambodia was the first country in ASEAN and the second LDC globally to adopt a National Long Term Strategy for Carbon Neutrality. The National Investment Law also delineates incentives to encourage the use of green energy and adoption of technologies and innovation in support of climate adaptation and mitigation.
These policies and regulations need to be further developed and implemented, and a public investment framework must reflect the commitments of Cambodia and set the conditions for private investors to adapt to the needed energy transition. As LDC graduation approaches, Cambodia will have to adapt its current growth model, by promoting and developing a green industry, including in agri-business, more competitive and innovative. The private sector must be supported in this green transition with enabling regulations and incentives.