Background and objectives
When in 2007 the EU adopted a new political strategy for the region of Central Asia (“Strategy for a New Partnership with Central Asia”), EU cooperation and development assistance to Central Asia was also stepped up as set out in the European Commission’s “Regional Strategy Paper for Assistance to Central Asia for the period 2007- 13”.
The Regional Strategy Paper for Assistance to Central Asia (RSPCA) for the period 2007-2013 is a fundamental complement to the New Partnership Strategy. It summarises the common as well as the individual challenges faced by the countries of the region, and provides the context and priorities for the financial assistance provided by the European Commission (EC).
The overall objectives of the RSPCA is to promote the stability and security of the countries of Central Asia, to assist in their pursuit of sustainable economic development and poverty reduction and to facilitate closer regional cooperation both within Central Asia and between Central Asia and the EU.
In all 750 M€ has been set aside under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), which is the main instrument that will be used to achieve these objectives and priorities both at regional level, and for each country individually. The regional strategy will also be supported by other instruments, such the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI), which is designed to support actions to promote better relations in the wider region.
The RSPCA identifies seven topics the EU Member States and European Commission have committed to cooperating closely with the Central Asian States on, namely:
The strategy puts a clear focus on three main areas of intensified policy dialogue and enhanced co-operation: Rule of Law, Education and Environment. Accordingly, three related initiatives have been launched (See below). For more information please click here.
This Regional Strategy and the Strategy for a New Partnership have been developed in consultation with the authorities of the partner countries of the region, and the Member States and other donors have been consulted during the drafting process.
The Strategy for a New Partnership was reviewed by the Council of the European Union in June 2012 (“Council conclusions on Central Asia”). Both strategy and priority areas for cooperation were found to still be relevant. In addition, it was recognised that the region is facing increasing new challenges, notably as regards developments in Afghanistan, and that security issues have come to fore in relations with the EU.
At bilateral level, the EU’s relations with Central Asian states are based on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs). These are built upon three pillars: political dialogue, trade and economic relations and cooperation in a variety of sectors.
Three pillars of co-operation
The allocation of financing under the RSPCA is broadly broken down as follows:
The first of these three pillars focuses on promoting improved relations and cooperation in the wider region, which is designed to prevent the emergence of new dividing lines in Europe and to offer neighbouring countries the prospect of closer political, security, economic and cultural cooperation.
The other two pillars forsee specific bilateral assistance programmes for the individual Central Asian countries in line with the policy agendas and objectives defined in the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements.
Meanwhile the European Commission organises a series of civil society seminars.