With over 30 million inhabitants, Uzbekistan is the most populous country in the region. It shares borders with all the other countries of Central Asia, as well as Afghanistan.
Recent political developments in the country have opened the way to closer international cooperation, and improved the conditions for investment and growth.
The European Union has fully supported the reform, transformation and integration processes that have been underway in Uzbekistan since 2017. Since assuming office in December 2016, the Government of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has initiated a bold and ambitious reform programme. Uzbekistan’s national development plan, the Action Strategy on Five Priority Development Areas (2017-2021), underpins a set of national strategies and plans that are central to transforming the relationship between the State and its citizens. The plans, most of which extend to 2030, are directed to effective and accountable public services, a transition to an open and inclusive Green Economy, and improving citizens’ lives.
These efforts align with several EU policy objectives, most importantly the following three priority areas:
Effective governance and digital transformation
The governance challenge is to accelerate reform so that it delivers results and translates into improved public services and welfare in line with the SDG commitment to leave no one behind. The national roadmap for reform in 2021 and beyond, emphasises democratic accountability, the rule of law, engaging citizens in decision-making and improved service delivery. Our specific objective in this priority area is therefore to partner with the national authorities and civil society to promote transparent and accountable democratic governance with improved capacity for effective public service delivery.
Inclusive, Digital and Green Growth
This priority area is aligned with EU “policy first” priorities on the Green Deal, digitalisation, post-COVID-19 “build back better” commitments, and support for human development and decent jobs. With the specific objective to support a gender and youth responsive, sustainable, climate-resilient and low-carbon economic transformation that delivers innovation, modernisation, and opportunity, we will contribute to the attainment of SDGs.
Development of a smart eco-friendly agri-food sector
The agri-food sector demonstrates major growth and export potential and is the foundation for promoting rural livelihoods, creating decent jobs and improving food security and nutrition. However, the market inclusion and competitiveness of smallholder farmers, who comprise most producers, are limited. Employment potential in the agriculture, food and textile industries, especially for rural women and youth, is significant. The EU’s Green Deal and Farm to Fork Strategy are highly relevant to environmental, food security and nutrition and rural development concerns.
The Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) for Uzbekistan for 2021-2024 amounts to €76 million.
Priority area 1: ‘’Effective governance and digital transformation’’ promotes an increased and more effective democratic governance with greater participation of citizens, business entities and civil society institutions in the process of decision-making at all levels. It also enables reform of Government to increase empowerment and social, economic, and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic status.
Priority area 2: ‘’Inclusive, digital, and green growth’’ fosters an improved national capacity and tools for sustainable and integrated resource management through the implementation of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns. Climate adaptation and mitigation measures are integrated into national policies, strategies and planning for the implementation of the 2030 and Paris Climate Change Agreement and sustainable development commitments.
Priority area 3: ‘’Development of a smart and eco-friendly agri-food sector’’ advances enhanced policy and regulatory framework supporting competitiveness, and inclusive and green development of the climate-smart agri-food sector and rural livelihoods. Furthermore, it improves access to modern quality services, including digital governance.
A dynamic civil society is emerging, and an increasing number of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) provide the ‘demand side’ of the accountability equation. In all fields of activity, however, CSOs experience significant challenges. Despite reforms, the registration and reporting requirements remain burdensome, and some human rights defenders face harassment and restrictions. CSOs often lack the capacity and resources to develop cooperation and advocacy initiatives and to coordinate amongst themselves.