Kazakhstan News

Kazakhstan–European Union relations

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When referring to the Kazakhstan and EU relations, they mostly translate to foreign policy and trade between the EU and Kazakhstan. This kind of relations has been defined by bilateral agreements between the two. The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) was signed in 1994, and it opened the doors to mutual collaboration and strengthened Kazakhstan’s ties to the EU states.

Mutual Trade

The EU, with its current 28 member states, is the biggest trade partner of Kazakhstan which is indicated by Kazakhstan’s 40% of overall exports to the EU. From the overall exports, 80% fall on oil and gas, one of Kazakhstan’s biggest economic drivers and resources. Other goods and commodities, as well as services, are also being exchanged which resulted in €13.35 billion from imports from Kazakhstan into the EU in 2007. The following years had similar results.

Kazakhstan is also a hot spot for foreign direct investment and the EU covers half of the overall investments in Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is, at the end, the biggest energy supplier of the EU.

When examining the mutual exchange, the EU gets energy from Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan most commonly enjoys EU’s machinery and transport equipment. All of this information suggests that Kazakhstan and the EU have a fair and steady relationship that rests on mutual exchange of goods, services, and commodities.

Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation

Every opportunity to build tighter relationships with the EU is welcomed by Kazakhstan since the country is aware that economic and political integration on a large-scale level will lead to further development and modernization.

Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA)

The EPCA between the EU and Kazakhstan was signed in 2015 with the goal to deepen cooperation. This Agreement is significant because it replaces the Partnership Agreement from 1994 and is supposed to provide a more elaborated legal basis for cooperation. It is not only significant economically, but it also encompasses more aspects and sectors, like for example, enhanced political dialogue, promotion of mutual investment and trade, as well as cooperation in social matters and the justice sector and home affairs.

The new Agreement even goes further encompassing other areas as well, e.g. energy, transport, climate change and mitigation, innovation, research, education, social affairs, employment, etc.

Since Kazakhstan has been trying to manifest itself on the global scene as a Central Asian power country, this Agreement will certainly bring the country a level up on the world scale.

The Role of the EU for Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan relied on the support of the EU to enhance growth and development ever since it released itself from the heavy chains of communism and the Soviet Union. Its independence in 1991 saw Kazakhstan’s interest rapidly increasing in cooperation with the Western countries and the EU- one of the biggest western machines, and hence, very valuable to Kazakhstan’s further growth.

The EU funded over 350 projects which mostly focused on the public sector reformation by strengthening local and regional government structures, reformation of the justice sector, etc.

Currently, there are two ongoing projects in Kazakhstan, namely, Supporting Kazakhstan's transition to a Green Economy Model Project that started in 2015 and should be completed next year (2018). This project is supposed to set the basis for the long-term development of a sustainable economy.

The second is called Support to Judicial Reform in Kazakhstan (2015-2018) and aimed at humanization of the judiciary system.

Are There Any Other Forms of Cooperation?

Kazakhstan is undergoing legal reforms, and for what it is worth, it has the full support of the EU, which offers its financial and technical support. EU has a special interest in promoting the significance of civil society and a pluralistic political system.

Kazakhstan also participates in some of the EU’s instruments and programs like the Renewable Energy program which is aimed at all Central Asian countries, and it promotes renewable and efficient energy. The country is also part of the Nuclear Safety Instrument which promotes peace.

Erasmus+ student and academic staff exchange programs are not only meant for European countries, but the project also includes a part of Asia, and Kazakhstan is part of it too.

It seems that cooperation with Kazakhstan is very stable since both parties (and partners) have a genuine interest to work together. Kazakhstan benefited from EU efforts significantly, and it is looking to foster its close ties with the EU further.