EU cooperation in Central Asia
EU cooperation in Central Asia is structured around two overall strategies:
EU-Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership
The EU Strategy for a New Partnership with Central Asia was adopted by the European Council on 21-22 June 2007 in recognition of the increasing importance of Central Asia for EU interests relating to security, stability, governance and energy diversification. The Strategy provides an overall framework for EU relations with Central Asia and builds on previous achievements in building relations with the countries of Central Asia, EU assistance programmes and other initiatives taken by the EU.
The EU priorities for its cooperation with the region as a whole include cooperation in the fields of human rights, rule of law, good governance and democracy ; education ; economic development ; trade and investment ; energy and transport ; environmental policies ; common threats and challenges ; and intercultural dialogue.
Strategy implementation concerns, on the EU side, EU institutions, notably the European Commission, but also EU Member States.
The Central Asia Strategy is mainly implemented through existing instruments, including Partnership and Cooperation Agreements and Interim Agreements, the Trade and Cooperation Agreements (where these are still in force), the EC Regional Assistance Strategy Paper 2007-2013 and Indicative Programmes 2007-2010 operating on a bilateral as well as a regional level, as well as various thematic assistance programmes, such as, for example, the Europen Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).
In June 2008 the first Joint Progress Report by the Council and the European Commission to the European Council on the implementation of the EU Central Asia Strategy was published. It noted that good progress had been made only one year after the launch of the Strategy.
Strategy implementation then has intensified further:
– Increased EU engagement with Central Asia through regular high level political dialogue
– Structured human rights dialogues are now in place with all five Central Asian states and several rounds have already taken place with each [Download brochure on Human Rights Dialogue]
– Implementation of the education initiative is advancing, inter alia by increasing the number of scolarship exchanges ad providing additional support for capacity building in education sectors, the establishment of a Central Asia Research and Eduction Network (CAREN) and the launching of the Central Asia Education Platform (CAEP) in [February] 2012
– The rule of law initiative was successfully launched at a Ministerial meeting in Brussels on 27 November 2008, and the proposal for an EU-Central Asia “Rule of Law Platform” project to step up the policy dialogue on Rule of Law issues the Rule of Law Platform was endorsed at the Second Conference of Ministers of Justice of the EU and Central Asia in Dushanbe on 14-15 June 2010. The Rule of Law Platform was launched in December 2011
– Environmental programmes have been expanded and National Water Policy Dialogues have been launched in Central Asia. The Water and Environment Cooperation Platform (WECOOP) stated in January 2012
– Energy dialogues have expanded, cooperation and dialogue on renewable energy and the Kyoto Protocol has also intensified and is being supported by assistance programmes
– The European Commission alone, not counting the programmes of EU Member States, has doubled its assistance to the region to 750 M€ for the years 2007-2013 under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI). This assistance is completed by resources under thematic programmes and represents one of the leading assistance programmes in the region
Plannning the further implementation of the EU Strategy in Central Asia
All priority areas of the strategy remain important: human rights, rule of alw, good governance and democratization; youth and eduction; economic development, trade and investment; energy and transport; environmental sustainability and water; combating common threats and challenges.
EU actions in relations with Central Asia over the coming yeras will focus in particular on:
– Reinforcing EU actions in the region in the key initiative areas of eduction, the rule of law , and environment and water, including through newly established support Platforms and targeted assistance
– Enhancing support for the monitoring, promotion and protection of human rights, judicial independence, good governance, inter-community relations and civil society development. Continue to make the bilateral human rights dialogues more results-oriented taking into account best best practices. Rncourage democratic reforms and the development of national democratic reform agendas and support implmentation by sharing EU experiences
– Continuing to promote regional co-operation and to improve neighbourly relations in the regiona, including by support for,confidence building measures as appropriate
– Consolidating energy cooperation, promoting diversification of energy supply and export routes and integration of energy markets.
Documents for download:
– First Joint Progress Report by the Council and the European Commission to the European Council on the implementation of the EU Central Asia Strategy (June 2008)
– Second Joint Progress Report by the Council and the European Commission to the European Council on the implementation of the EU Central Asia Strategy (June 2010)
– Third Progress Report on the implementation of the EU Strategy for Central Asia Implementation Review and outline for Future Orientations (June 2012)
– Press release: Council of the European Union: Council conclusions on Central Asia (25 June 2012)