Implementation and Review of the European Union-Central Asia Strategy: Recommendations for EU Action

29-01-2016

The 2007 European Union (EU) Strategy for Central Asia was reviewed for the fourth time in 2015. Over the last eight years, the EU has successfully established several institutionalised mechanisms for strengthening relations and working with Central Asian governments, including an increased presence on the ground. Despite this, the EU’s engagement in Central Asia is one of limited to no impact. The region has become more unstable; forecast gas deliveries from the region to Europe have so far not materialised; trade is minimal with the exception of EU-Kazakhstan links, democracy is seen by the Central Asian regimes as a threat to their survival; corruption severely undermines economic development and siphons off much of the development aid; and the human rights situation has been backsliding. The EU should not and cannot compete with Russia and China in the region. The EU would do best to focus on a few key areas where it can achieve concrete results. Besides broader economic and some security cooperation, the EU should focus on education in supporting the region’s development while further emphasizing human rights and strengthening political and financial support to civil society.

The 2007 European Union (EU) Strategy for Central Asia was reviewed for the fourth time in 2015. Over the last eight years, the EU has successfully established several institutionalised mechanisms for strengthening relations and working with Central Asian governments, including an increased presence on the ground. Despite this, the EU’s engagement in Central Asia is one of limited to no impact. The region has become more unstable; forecast gas deliveries from the region to Europe have so far not materialised; trade is minimal with the exception of EU-Kazakhstan links, democracy is seen by the Central Asian regimes as a threat to their survival; corruption severely undermines economic development and siphons off much of the development aid; and the human rights situation has been backsliding. The EU should not and cannot compete with Russia and China in the region. The EU would do best to focus on a few key areas where it can achieve concrete results. Besides broader economic and some security cooperation, the EU should focus on education in supporting the region’s development while further emphasizing human rights and strengthening political and financial support to civil society.

Autore esterno

Jos BOONSTRA (FRIDE, Spain) and Tika TSERTSVADZE (International Partnership for Human Rights, Belgium)