European Union approves first actions for Central Asia in line with the European Green Deal priorities
Today, the European Commission has announced a €8 million support programme to boost sustainable energy in Central Asia. The new ‘Sustainable Energy Connectivity in Central Asia’ (SECCA) programme will be the first dedicated and sizeable programme in years in Central Asia to focus on sustainable energy through a regional approach. The programme’s adoption comes at a time when the European Union is working towards the implementation of the European Green Deal priorities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen said, “The objectives of the Green Deal cannot be achieved in isolation. We need ever-stronger partnerships with Central Asia and beyond, to speed up the shift to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and a more circular economy in the next years. A regional solution is key to tackle regional challenges.”
The Commission is expanding the role of investment and innovative financing and seeks to engage with the private sector to catalyse additional financing sources. The core objectives of the Commission’s vision remain the eradication of poverty and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, to leave no one behind. The new Central Asia regional programme will work towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy), while catalysing actions to fight climate change and working towards poverty eradication and gender equality.
The programme will complement the EU’s 15 regional initiatives in environment, biodiversity, climate change, disaster risk reduction, water and sustainable energy, as well as +20 EU bilateral cooperation projects with Central Asian countries in these areas. Most bilateral projects contribute to upgrading infrastructure, and regional programmes cover sustainable energy either in a nexus approach, or within the larger context of environment and climate change.
The newly approved programme will, amongst others:
- strengthen public capacity (institutional, human and regulatory, financial);
- raise awareness;
- improve data and modelling;
- facilitate the identification of bankable projects; and
- boost regional cooperation.
The EU Delegation in Kazakhstan, serving as the EU’s hub in Central Asia for regional programmes, will be in charge of its management, and will contract a service provider to implement the activities.
EU-Central Asia relations date back to 1991, when the European Commission launched the Technical Aid to the Commonwealth of Independent States (TACIS) programme. The EU has allocated over €1.1 billion to development cooperation with Central Asia only in the 2014–2020 cycle, including over €460 million for regional programmes. These regional programmes promote cooperation in the areas of sustainable development and regional security. The priorities of the new European Commission’s International Partnerships are set out within the framework of the five pillars of the current Commission: (1) Green Deal, (2) Digitalisation, (3) Sustainable Growth and Jobs, (4) Migration Partnerships, and (5) Governance, Peace and Security.
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