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International Partnerships

Central Asia has seen much development in the last few decades but still experiences a number of struggles. Our engagement in the region involves political dialogue and development cooperation at both regional and national levels. Throughout our programmes in the region we focus on various areas including primarily climate change, environmental protection and gender equality.

Our cooperation with Central Asia covers 5 countries. The region is inhabited by over 70 million people with access to abundant natural resources. Situated along ancient Silk Road trade routes connecting China and the Mediterranean, it is however among the least integrated regions in the world currently. While extreme poverty has decreased across Central Asia over the past 2 decades, Central Asian countries remain vulnerable to economic downturns, environmental degradation and the effects of climate change.

Each of the countries making up the region have made socio-economic progress at varying paces since independence in 1991. Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have reached upper-middle income status, no longer requiring the benefits of EU development cooperation.

Through our programmes in Central Asia we promote regional cooperation, notably on environmental issues, education, trade and the rule of law. Our approach to cooperating with the region is aligned with the EU-Central Asia strategy for a new partnership, first set out in 2007. An updated strategy for EU-Central Asia development cooperation was adopted in June 2019. The strategy promotes sustainable energy, women’s economic empowerment, education and inclusive sustainable growth.

We have stepped up efforts to improve land and forest resource management, support the stabilisation of the shrinking Aral Sea, mitigate effects of climate change and reduce the impact of natural disasters in the region.

Through the Investment Facility for Central Asia set up in 2010, we have contributed to leveraging investments in infrastructure throughout the region. This includes municipal infrastructure improving the delivery of public services, integrated water management, and private sector development.

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Our impact

Over 2600 Central Asian border guards, customs officers and other officials received training to foster integrated border management in the region.

Over 3600 individuals benefitted from Justice and Security Programmes funded through the EU rule of law platform in Central Asia.

26 universities and 500 participants from 5 Central Asian countries and Afghanistan exchanged knowledge on water resource management and climate issues.

20 research projects funded to foster solutions to water-energy problems in the region.

6 feasibility studies completed to prepare for remediation of uranium legacy sites in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Our programmes

We dedicate a significant proportion of support to regional cooperation programmes in Central Asia which prioritise:

  • sustainable development
  • regional security and stability
  • policy dialogue and technical assistance
  • education, training, youth and sport

Rule of law programme

Launched in its original form in 2008, the aim of the rule of law programme is to reinforce human rights, rule of law, and democracy in Central Asia in accordance with international standards and based on a demand-driven approach.

The new EU-Central Asia rule of law programme sets out 3 main actions to:

  • facilitate the creation of a common legal space between Europe and Central Asia, enhancing human rights protection
  • promote transparency and action against economic crimes
  • promote efficient functioning of state institutions and public administration

Central Asia water and energy programmme (CAWEP)

CAWEP is a partnership between the EU, the World Bank, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to promote energy and water security at regional and country. It is structured along 3 pillars:

  • energy security
  • water security
  • energy-water linkages

CAWEP functions at the national scale to strengthen institutional capacities and sector performance, while promoting regional dialogue and a framework supporting energy and water security.

EU-Central Asia enhanced regional cooperation on environment, climate change and water (WECOOP)

WECOOP promotes the stable, peaceful and sustainable development of Central Asia. It facilitates closer regional cooperation on environment, climate change and water both within Central Asia and between the region and the EU. WECOOP is entering its 3rd phase in autumn 2019. The programme is active in 3 areas:

  • policy dialogue
  • capacity building and policy advice
  • communication, mapping, analysis and networking

Sustainable transport connections with Central Asia

The European Commission is conducting a study on sustainable transport corridors connecting Europe with Central Asia with two objectives:

  • Identifying the most sustainable transport corridors connecting the five Central Asian republics with the EU’s extended Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T)
  • Proposing key actions for corridor development – in terms of both physical infrastructure (hard connectivity) and enabling environment (soft connectivity)

The study is led and funded by the European Commission and implemented by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) over a period of 12 months and will contribute to the implementation of the EU Strategy on Connecting Europe and Asia (2018), the EU Strategy on Central Asia (2019), and the European Strategy of Global Gateway Partnerships (2021).

Multiannual Indicative Programme 2021-2027 for Turkmenistan - annex
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Multiannual action plan 2022-2023 for Turkmenistan
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