The EU today announced cooperation programmes that will promote sustainable development in Central Asia. This announcement comes as ministers from across Central Asia meet with senior EU officials at the EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting.
A set of regional programmes, worth over €88 million, will support the private sector, trade and investment in the region, as well as help to protect the environment, tackle climate change and promote the rule of law. This support will be spread across six regional programmes, which will benefit Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Furthermore, a bilateral programme worth €36 million, will support effective and inclusive education policies in Kyrgyzstan.
Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: "These programmes worth €124 in total will support jobs and sustainable development in our partner countries across Central Asia. In particular, our bilateral programme will support the Kyrgyz Government in ensuring equitable and inclusive quality education for all. Together, we will work to create opportunities and shared prosperity, while protecting our planet for future generations."
Among the regional programmes, a major focus will be on promoting economic development. A programme worth €31.2 million will promote job creation by supporting the role that the private sector and trade play in sustainable development. Through this programme, the EU will provide strategic advice and training to help the Governments make their countries regulatory frameworks more conducive for business. It also aims to boost the skills of entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to become more competitive, and increase trade.
Sustainable investment will be further encouraged via a €20 million boost to the Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA), and €10 million for the 'Accelerate Prosperity' project. Investments interventions could contribute to limiting the emission of CO2 and increase resilience to climate change, improve access to finance for SMEs, support investments in the transport sector and contribute to connectivity in the region.
Other regional programmes will help protect the environment and tackle climate change. €7 million has been allocated to the Central Asia Energy and Water Development Programme (CAEWDP) to promote energy and water security through national and regional activities, including data generation in energy, water and environment sector efficiency, and capacity building of national and regional organizations. A further €3.9 million will fund the EU-Central Asia Enhanced Regional Cooperation on Environment Climate Change and Water (WECOOP). Through this programme, the EU will support the efforts in the region to enhance environment, climate change and water policies at national levels in Central Asia and approximate them to EU standards. Both programmes will also promote informed green investments.
A programme worth €8 million will support peace through the promotion of the rule of law. This programme is a follow-up to the previous EU-Central Asia Rule of Law Platform. It will contain regional and country-specific activities and will work to promote European and international conventions, foster transparency and action against economic crime, and build the capacities of state institutions and public administration.
An €8.05 million Disaster Risk Management programme will build disaster and climate resilience in Central Asia, and lay the foundations for a future disaster risk financing solution at regional level.
The bilateral cooperation programme with Kyrgyzstan, worth €36 million, will support the Kyrgyz authorities to make education policies more inclusive, cost-effective and transparent. It will promote equitable access to quality education as well as lifelong learning opportunities for all, irrespective of gender, ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. It will also seek to bring the skills and qualifications offered by the education and training systems closer to the needs of the labour market.
Central Asia occupies an important geo-political position. EU relations with Central Asia are defined by the EU-Central Asia Strategy, adopted in 2007. The EU's main focus in cooperation with the region is to support long-term stability and to promote economic and political reforms to ensure the region's prosperity.
EU cooperation with the region amounts to over €1 billion through both bilateral and regional envelopes.
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