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International Partnerships
News announcement30 January 2024Directorate-General for International Partnerships

Global Gateway: EU and Central Asian countries agree on building blocks to develop the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor

During the two-day Investors Forum for EU-Central Asia Transport Connectivity, the European Union, Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) and other gathered partners from across the world have made important steps to start the development of the fast route Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor linking Europe and Central Asia within 15 days.

During yesterday’s opening speech, European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis announced an overall commitment to invest €10 billion in sustainable transport connectivity in Central Asia, as compiled contributions from international partners present at the Investors Forum. During the following discussions between public and private stakeholders, a series of Memoranda of Understanding and agreements were signed that will kickstart the development of the corridor.

European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “I am pleased to see that the Forum I initiated has accomplished a great deal over the past two days. The public and private investors on both our regions will work together to make this crucial corridor a success. Multiple Memoranda of Understanding have been signed by the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, EU Member States and private sector made concrete commitments. Together, these commitments amount to an impressive €10 billion devoted to sustainable transport connectivity in Central Asia, enabled by the European Commission’s grant funding and investment guarantees. This is the kind of investment we need to move from vision to action.”

Further agreements that were reached:

  • An EU-funded Regional Transport Program, to be adopted in 2025.With this new program the EU will offer technical assistance to advance existing and future transport related projects. This contributes to the overall €1.5 billion devolved by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank to progress the transport infrastructure agenda in Central Asia.
  • The establishment of a Coordination Platform, to monitor progress, enhance cooperation, and ensure that development of the Trans-Caspian Transport Corridor stays on track.
  • A Regional Prosperity-focused Programme that will start delivering in 2024 and will be implemented by the International Trade Centre and the OECD, and geared towards the practical operationalisation and usage of the trans-Caspian transport networks.
  • A senior Resident Twinning Advisors instrument is launched in which advisors will be embedded in the Ministries of Transport of all five Central Asian countries from 2024. The coming months the coordination and organisation of dedicated meetings on soft connectivity will start.

These agreements come on top of the Memoranda of Understanding that were signed during the first day of the Forum.

Background

The Investors Forum brings together high-level representatives from the European Commission, EU Member States, Central Asia as well as Caucasus countries and Türkiye. Other participants include G7 nations, other like-minded countries, financial institutions and the private sector.

The Investors Forum builds upon the findings of the June 2023 study on Sustainable Transport Connections between Europe and Central Asia, which was led by the European Commission and conducted by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). The study identified 33 hard infrastructure needs and 7 soft connectivity key actions the delivery of which would greatly enhance the operational efficiency and economic attractiveness of the trans-Caspian transport networks. These were presented at the 2nd EU-Central Asia Economic Forum, which took place in May 2023 in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Since the publication of the study, the European Commission has worked towards operationalising the study's findings. The EU and its partners, in Team Europe and beyond, are together mobilising €10 billion. The European Commission is confident that the discussions taking place at the Investors Forum will unblock further funding for the development of key transport networks in Central Asia.

The EU's longstanding partnership with the five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) has been further strengthened, building on the relationship established in 1991 and upgraded in 2019. The Investors Forum deepens this collaboration as the EU moves decisively to foster the establishment of direct transport links with Central Asia through the Black Sea and Caucasus regions, in full partnership with Central Asian countries, Türkiye, as well as those of the Eastern Partnership, who are actively participating in the Investors Forum.

The Global Gateway strategy is the EU's positive offer to reduce the worldwide investment disparity and boost smart, clean and secure connections in digital, energy and transport sectors, and to strengthen health, education and research systems. In a Team Europe approach that brings together the European Union, EU Member States, and European development finance institutions, together we aim to mobilise up to €300 billion in public and private investments from 2021 to 2027, creating essential links rather than dependencies, and closing the global investment gap.

Details

Publication date
30 January 2024
Author
Directorate-General for International Partnerships