Kazakhstan is the 9th largest country in the world, with a population of only 18 million. It is the largest economy in Central Asia, mainly due to the country's vast natural resources.
While Kazakhstan’s economy is heavily reliant on extractive industry, the country has now embarked on a transition to green energy. At the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26 (Glasgow, November 2021), Kazakhstan announced its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15% by 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the European Union and Kazakhstan entered into force on 1 March 2020 and is the legal basis for EU-Kazakhstan relations, providing a broad framework for reinforced political dialogue, comprehensive sectoral cooperation, and promoting mutual trade and investment.
This new agreement, the first of its kind signed by the EU with one of its Central Asian partners, enables concrete cooperation in 29 other key policy areas, such as justice and home affairs; economic and financial cooperation; energy and transport; environment and climate change; employment and social affairs; and culture, education and research.
To support the implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, a bilateral Cooperation Facility of €9 million for 2021-2024 has been established, including capacity development and institution building activities, support for policy dialogues leading to policy reforms, and communication activities.
The Cooperation Facility focuses on 2 priority areas
- sustainable economic growth to promote a more diverse, green and circular economy, with emphasis on women and youth-led micro-small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs)
- rule of law to strengthen the existing legal framework and institutions
The Cooperation Facility is complemented by projects supported by the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) to facilitate investments from European financial institutions, through a combination of grants and loans and a guarantee system.
Bilateral cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan is also supported by the Democracy and Human Rights Programme and the Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities Programme. The aim is to strengthen civil society organisations and their role as local governance and accountability actors, and as promoters of inclusive and sustainable growth.
Under the regional programme 2021-2027, the EU will also continue to support Kazakhstan in key sectors, such as digitalisation, climate change, water and energy, private sector development, trade, border management and rule of law.