The EU is present in the region since the independence of the Central Asian countries. On 2 February 1993 the EU and Kazakhstan signed an agreement that established diplomatic relations between the two sides, and an EU Delegation to Kazakhstan was established. Since then, Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (CPA) have been signed between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic (1995), Uzbekistan (1996) and Tajikistan (2004). These came into force respectively in 1999, 1999 and 2010.
The EU has strengthened its relationship with the Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan) since the adoption by the European Council in June 2007 of “The EU and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership ”. The Strategy covers all areas of cooperation, from the EU-Central Asia political dialogue with regular meetings of EU and Central Asian Foreign Ministers; through dialogue on human rights, to support for reforms in education, rule of law, energy and transport, environment and water, common threats and challenges (including border management combating drug trafficking), and trade and economic relations.
The Strategy has helped intensify cooperation and political dialogue between the EU and Central Asia. In the years following the adoption of the Strategy, the EU opened new Delegations in the Kyrgyz Republic (2010), Tajikistan (2010) and Uzbekistan (2012) reinforcing the EU presence and its partnership with these countries.
The EU Delegations, as well as the diplomatic missions of the EU Member States in the Central Asian region, offer support to the Rule of Law Platform on matters ranging from establishing relationships with the authorities of the Central Asian States to political and country expertise. European diplomats in Central Asia contribute to the success of the activities of the Rule of Law Platform by providing policy advice on country or regional issues and by participating in certain activities of the Platform. For example, Heads of EU Delegations have agreed to deliver opening statements at conferences and seminars, especially when events chaired by high-ranking government representatives. Also EU Delegations help provide a coherent country and regional approach on key strategic matters.
The Strategy is supported by a significant increase in EU assistance compared to prior years of cooperation. During the period covered by the Central Asia Indicative Programme 2007-2010, a total EC grant of € 314 million was earmarked under the DCI (Development Cooperation Instrument) for Central Asia, with an average annual budget of € 78.5 million. The indicative breakdown of resources for the period was as follows:
Promotion of Central Asian regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations: € 94,2 million, i.e 30% of resources
Assistance programmes at country level: € 219,8 million, i.e 70% of resources.
The following indicative resources have been allocated at country level: Kazakhstan: € 44 million; Kyrgyzstan: € 55 million; Tajikistan: € 66 million; Turkmenistan: € 22 million; Uzbekistan: € 32,8 million. The priority areas for bilateral cooperation were: Poverty reduction and increasing living standards, and support for good governance and economic reform.
During the period covered by the Central Asia Indicative Programme 2011-2013, a total EU grant of € 321 million has been planned under the DCI, equivalent to an average annual budget of € 107 million per year (+ 21 % compared to the previous CA IP 2007-2010). The indicative average allocation per year to “Promotion of regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations” has been set at € 35 million, while € 72 million on average per year has been indicatively earmarked for the Central Asia national assistance programmes at country level, for the priority areas “poverty reduction and increasing living standards”, and “good governance and economic reform”. The DCI indicative budget 2011-2013 for CA country bilateral assistance programmes has been allocated by country as follows: Kazakhstan: € 30 million (14%); Kyrgyzstan: € 51 million (24%); Tajikistan: € 62,1 million (29%); Turkmenistan: € 30,9 million (14%); Uzbekistan: € 42 million (19%).