EU aims to broaden its partnership with Laos

Published on May 8, 2013

The European Union wants to broaden its partnership with Laos in many areas and intensify cooperation in regards to global climate change diplomacy, as well as judicial matters and human rights issues.

Ambassador and Head of the European Union Delegation to Laos Mr David Lipman was speaking at an event to mark Europe Day in Vientiane on Tuesday, saying that the core activity between Laos and the EU is still development cooperation.

“EU support, including all European assistance from Member States, roughly constitutes one third of all grant aid provided to Laos. Our main sectors of cooperation are agriculture and forestry, trade and business facilitation, and improved health services and better education,” he said.

“Important cross-cutting areas are governance and civil society, climate change and environment conservation,” he added.

“What counts in the end are the tangible results, as diverse as they are: the school books on the children’s desks, a destroyed “bombie” which is no longer a threat to anyone, a bowl of rice for dinner, or a successful business concept with export opportunities to European and other export markets.”

These are just a few simple examples to underline the tremendous development progress in Laos, Mr Lipman noted. He was confident to say that European assistance made a contribution to that, revealing that in the future these European efforts will be bundled into one programme – one package with all Member States playing a particular role.

“This year we have embarked on an exercise to formulate a joint European cooperation strategy for Laos which will be fully aligned to your national development strategy,” he said.

Over the years, the EU has provided ongoing support to Laos in its bid to become a full member of the WTO, which took 15 years for the country to accomplish.

“We are also interested in broadening our partnership in many other areas. The future launch of a voluntary partnership agreement in the forestry sector is an example of the next generation of future bilateral cooperation. We want to intensify our cooperation in global climate change diplomacy, in judicial issues, in human rights issues,” Mr Lipman said.

He remarked that he has been fascinated by the development changes in Laos over the past four years, saying that Laos is growing, modernising, entering the community of nations, committing to fair trade (WTO), and to many human rights conventions.

In 2012, Laos succeeded in hosting the ASEM Summit in Vientiane, which had a boosting effect on Laos-EU relations. The highest European leadership, including President of the Council Herman Van Rompuy, and President of the Commission José Manuel Barroso came to Vientiane to witness what was an extraordinary event.

“Every visitor to Laos in the context of ASEM discovered a rather unknown part of the world with enthusiasm, and they will come back.”

The ASEM Summit is an occasion to have Europe and Asia together because we have shared interests,” Mr Lipman said. “Europe Day is a day to celebrate with our Lao friends and partners,” he added. “It is a day to reflect on how a peaceful and prosperous Europe can benefit Lao and European citizens alike.”

Source: Vientiane Times