Kazakhstan–European Union relations
Partnership and Cooperation Agreement
EU-Kazakhstan bilateral relations are guided by the 1994 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). Enhancements to Kazakhstan's partnership and cooperation with the European Union and its member states were ratified by the Kazakh Parliament in March 2016. The European Parliament ratified the agreement on December 12, 2017. 511 of 654 present European parliament members voted in favor of ratification. Eighteen EU member states have ratified the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) with Kazakhstan. Kazakhstan is the first Central Asian country to conclude the EPCA with the EU. The EPCA governs trade and economic relations between the EU and Kazakhstan.
The Cooperation Council between Kazakhstan and the European Union meets annually and is the body to carry out the bilateral Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The Cooperation Council and Kazakhstan discuss many issues of mutual importance such as political, judiciary and economic reforms, the rule of law, trade and economic relations, and regional stability.
Since 2002, the EU has grown to become Kazakhstan's largest trading partner, being the destination of 40% of its exports. Those exports were primarily, 80%, oil and gas in 2007. In 2007 EU imports of goods from Kazakhstan amounted to €13.35 billion and services amounted to €1.52 billion. EU exports to Kazakhstan were €6.04 billion in goods and €1.92 billion in services. Half of Kazakhstan's $7.3 billion of foreign direct investment in 2006 came from the EU. As a major energy supplier to the EU, the EU supports its accession to the World Trade Organization.
The EU is Kazakhstan's biggest trade partner. In 2014 more than half of Kazakhstan’s total trade is with the EU—some $53.4 billion in 2013 and $28.4 billion in the first half of 2014. More than half of Kazakhstan's gross foreign direct investment, or nearly $100 billion, has come from EU countries.
Kazakhstan's exports to the EU are heavily dominated by energy, and exports from the EU are dominated by machinery and transport equipment, as well as products within the manufacturing and chemicals sectors.
The EU is Kazakhstan's primary trade partner, and its largest export market. In 2014, trade to the EU was worth EUR 31 billion (36%). The EU is also the largest foreign investor in Kazakhstan, representing over 50% of FDI in Kazakhstan (2014).
The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Kazakhstan has been the legal framework for EU–Kazakhstan bilateral relations since it entered into force in 1999. In November 2006 a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of energy between the EU and Kazakhstan has been signed establishing the basis for enhanced cooperation. Kazakhstan recognizes increased economic and political integration as key to its modernization and development.
The future European Commission assistance will focus on the following priority areas: promotion of the ongoing reform process at political, economic, judiciary and social level, infrastructure building, and cooperation in the energy sector.
The overall EU co-operation objectives, policy responses and priority fields for Central Asia can be found in the EC Regional Strategy Paper for Central Asia 2007–2013. In addition to the assistance under the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI), Kazakhstan participates in several ongoing regional programs.
The Cooperation Council between the European Union (EU) and Kazakhstan held its fourteenth meeting on Tuesday, March 3, 2015. The meeting was chaired by Kazakhstan's Foreign Minister Erlan A. Idrissov, and the EU delegation was led by Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. The EU reiterated its support for the membership of the Republic of Kazakhstan of the WTO.
A conference was held in Astana titled “25 Years of European Union – Central Asia Relations: From the Past to the Future" where EU Special Representative for Central Asia Ambassador Peter Burian affirmed the European Union's financial and political commitment to Kazakhstan and the Central Asia region.
Cooperation in green economy
In 2015, the European Union and Kazakhstan launched a Project on Supporting Kazakhstan’s transition towards Green Economy model. The project is funded by the European Union and is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as the lead organization, in partnership with UNECE.
The overall objective of the Project is to contribute to Kazakhstan’s long-term environmental sustainability and inclusive economic development, supporting the country's transition to a Green Economy Model.
Human Rights Dialogue
In April 2008, Kazakhstan and the EU marked an agreement to begin human rights dialogue. Human Rights Dialogues are an instrument of the EU’s external policy and are designed to discuss questions of mutual interest and enhance cooperation on human rights, as well as launch initiatives to improve the relevant human rights situation. In line with this agreement, the EU held its first structured dialogues on human rights with Kazakhstan in October 2008.
The European Union provides economic and technical assistance to Kazakhstan through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The EU budgets €1 million per year for a variety of projects in Kazakhstan that support Kazakhstan's ongoing legal reforms and strengthening the role of civil society.
Kazakhstan has a westward extension, which makes a strong case geographically for its European status, and potential for eventual EU membership. In 2009, the ambassador of Kazakhstan to Russia, Adilbek Dzhaksybekov said "We would like to join in the future the European Union, but to join not as Estonia and Latvia, but as an equal partner". This statement was about a long term perspective, because currently Kazakhstan is not even participating in the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) although the Kazakh Foreign Ministry has expressed interest in the ENP. MEP Charles Tannock has suggested Kazakhstan's inclusion in the ENP, while emphasizing that "there are still concerns regarding democracy and human rights in Kazakhstan".
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