The EU has been engaged with Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) since the early years of their independence. The adoption of the new EU Strategy on Central Asia in May 2019 put an ambitious impetus for the EU – Central Asia bilateral relations and further opened up new opportunities for taking the EU-Central Asia partnership forward and intensifying the EU’s engagement in the region in a way that advances the EU’s interests.
The overarching goal of the EU’s policy in Central Asia is to encourage political stability and economic prosperity through regional cooperation, in the areas of security, migration and mobility.
Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (EPCAs)
Bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) provide a framework for the EU's bilateral relations with all Central Asia Countries. The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (EPCAs) constitutes a new generation of bilateral agreements which elevate and deepen the current level of the EU-Central Asia partnership.
These Partnership and Cooperation Agreements promote the exchange of good practice on preventing and combating violent extremism, radicalisation and terrorism financing while strengthening the resilience of local communities in full respect of human rights. They also provide the opportunity to pursue intensified cooperation on cybersecurity and on issues related to an open, free and secure cyberspace. Signatories also committed to cooperation on issues that are related to migration aiming at improving migration management and mobility within the region and beyond. Cooperation also touches upon issues such as addressing the root causes and the prevention of irregular migration, trafficking in human beings, return and readmission, legal migration and border management.
Annual formal dialogues on home affairs – based on the PCAs and EPCAs – are organised with each country within the framework of Joint Cooperation Councils and Joint Cooperation Committees, including their special Subcommittees on Justice and Home Affairs issues.
The fight against drug trafficking and organised crime, the disruption of supply and the support to demand reduction, including the development of new forms of treatment and rehabilitation remains a top priority for the EU.
Central Asia is a key area of interest in this respect, as Afghan opium is trafficked into Europe through this region. Within the framework of the cooperation agreements, the EU is seeking to promote the development of integrated and balanced drug policies with the aim to strengthen national polices in drug demand reduction and address illegal drugs supply and related organised crime. In addition, The Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP) ensures the implementation of the EU Central Asia Plan on Drugs and promotes EU methodologies and instruments in the area of drug policy and substance abuse in the region.
Regional cooperation is also supported through the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA), which constitutes one of the EU’s flagship programmes in the region. It brings all the expertise of EU Member States to all Central Asia partner countries in integrated border management. The initiative aims at enhancing security, fighting against illegal trafficking, eliminating drug trafficking across the region, tackling organised crime, improving cross-border cooperation and border management systems, improving living conditions for people living in border areas while targeting capacity building and institutional development.
The Prague Processis a targeted migration dialogue and a policy process promoting migration partnerships among the 50 countries of the European Union, Schengen Area, Eastern Partnership, Western Balkans, Central Asia, Russia and Turkey.
The Process originated from the EU financed project “Building Migration Partnerships”, and was initiated during the Czech EU Presidency at the 1st Prague Process Ministerial Conference with the signature of the Prague Process Joint Declaration in April 2009. In the Joint Declaration, serving as a common political framework, the participating states agreed to strengthen co-operation in migration management, to explore and develop agreed principles and elements for close migration partnerships between their countries, following a comprehensive, balanced, pragmatic and operational approach, and respecting the rights and human dignity of migrants and their family members, as well as of refugees.