Policy Paper No. 15 – The 2019 EU Strategy on Central Asia: SEnECA recommendations for implementation Part II

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In policy paper 15, SEnECA researchers continue their evaluation of the recently published EU Strategy on Central Asia. In the previous policy paper, Part 3 of the strategy (Working better together) was examined, and general recommendations on the implementation were provided. In this paper, Part 1 (Partnering for resilience) and Part 2 (Partnering for prosperity) of the strategy are assessed. Here, the authors utilize a scorecard that places a numerical value on each initiative of the strategy to measure their relative importance. Thus, the paper provides a set of recommendations on the implementation of the tasks that ranked the highest on the SEnECA scorecard.

With regard to Partnering for resilience, the highest-rated initiatives were the strengthening of cooperation on border management and climate change and supporting human rights in the region. The authors recommend that the EU share its border management expertise with Central Asian countries, include civil society actors and businesses in the fight against climate change, and promote labour standards and women empowerment in Central Asia.  With regard to Partnering for prosperity, the highest-rated initiatives concerned improvements in the business environment, assistance in the development of transport corridors, and the increase of student mobility between the EU and Central Asia. The authors suggest to directly support small and medium businesses, to assist Central Asian transportation and logistics, and to raise awareness of EU research and student exchange programs. These recommendations are made in the effort to highlight crucial aspects of the new strategy so that these initiatives are properly engaged and implemented over the next decade.

Did you know?

We suggest creating more research grant calls that are specific to the cooperation of the EU and Central Asia. The grants should include various fields ranging from general policy issues (such as SEnECA) to specific policy issues (e.g. economic policies, agricultural policies, education policies) to specific fields (e.g. water management, agricultural practices, women’s rights).
(p.11)

More research grant calls

[…] we suggest to establish a Women’s League in Central Asia (plus Afghanistan) to address issues of protection against violence, inequality, child marriage, and to promote equal representation of women in public service through training programmes.
(p.9)

Women’s League in Central Asia

Demonstrate in local languages and regional lingua franca Russian, where appropriate, what the EU is doing on the ground and what it stands for […].
(p.7)

Languages

Policy Paper No. 14 – The 2019 EU Strategy on Central Asia: SEnECA recommendations for implementation Part I

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In SEnECA policy paper 14, the 2019 EU strategy on Central Asia – “The EU and Central Asia: New Opportunities for a Stronger Partnership” – is examined. The paper primarily focuses on two main areas. First, it assesses the strengths of the new strategy and offers overarching recommendations on its implementation. The general conclusion is that the new strategy is an improvement in comparison to the preceding document adopted in 2007. By avoiding a patronizing tone, the strategy emphasises concrete means on how to work better together with Central Asian countries. The strategy sets a comprehensive agenda that extends from political and economic goals to security and energy goals. On the other hand, the strategy could be more ambitious and clear pledges of financial resources would have contributed to signaling the EU’s ambitions. Among other things, the authors of the SEnECA policy paper recommend closer cooperation among the EU institutions and EU member states, the development of a concrete plan for implementation, an annual review of the strategy, and more focused and comprehensive information about the EU in Central Asia and about Central Asia in Europe.

Second, an in-depth analysis of Part 3 of the strategy (Working Better Together) is presented. SEnECA researchers have developed a scorecard to assign a numerical value on how experts in EU-Central Asian relations perceive the relative importance of each task of the strategy. Based on the results of the scorecard, the experts view Working Better Together as a rather supplemental component of the strategy that should reinforce Part 1 and 2. As suggestions for improvement, the authors recommend to establish a link between European and Central Asian civil society actors and to focus more on independent civil actors in Central Asia rather than on state-sponsored ones. Furthermore, it is recommended to create a short list of policies that the two regions can concentrate on and to establish quantitative and qualitative measurements in order to determine the progress made.

Part 1 and 2 of the new EU strategy on Central Asia will be reviewed in the final policy paper 15 that will be published shortly after policy paper 14.

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SEnECA experts see the practically oriented tasks as more significant than those related to improving the ways of cooperation tools and channels.
(p.14)

Practically oriented tasks

Facilitate the inclusion of more movies, TV series, documentaries and articles from the EU in the local mass media outlets, thus reaching a wider share of population and creating a more balanced image of the EU.
(p. 10)

Inclusion of Movies etc.

[…] the image of the EU in Central Asia falls behind the image of other external actors in the region, Russia in particular (especially among the general public which is often mostly aware only of crises and controversial developments in the EU).
(p.9)

Image of the EU

The new Strategy is comprehensive. It covers various areas of cooperation, ranging from political and security issues, to economy, trade, culture et. al.
(p.4)

The new strategy

Policy Paper No. 13 – Central Asia in 2030: SEnECA forecasts for the region and the role of the European Union

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On the eve of the adoption of the new EU’s Central Asia Strategy, SEnECA is providing its version of the future of Central Asia for the year 2030 in its latest policy paper. The paper covers the following three areas: 1. political and economic developments in Central Asian countries, 2. intra-regional cooperation in Central Asia and 3. the EU’s engagement with Central Asia.

The paper concludes that in the year 2030, Central Asian countries will be more advanced economically and will be more open to the outside world in economic terms. Freedoms and liberties will progress at a slower pace and their levels will vary strongly from country to country in the region. Although bilateral and multilateral relations inside the region will have improved by 2030, they will not amount to regional integration.

In 2030, the EU will still play an important role in Central Asia, but its comparative influence will be smaller than today. Other powers, Russia and China in particular, will retain and expand their presence. Thus, in a decade, Central Asia will be a different region from today and changes since the 2007 EU’ Strategy to the upcoming will be starker. Therefore, also EU’s approach has to adapt.

The forecasts of SEnECA are based on semi-structured interviews conducted with experts from the SEnECA network, on a focus group discussion from the SEnECA Scenario Worksop in Almaty (January 2019) and on the analysis of academic and other literature.

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In 2030, Central Asia will be a more cooperative region. SEnECA experts expect that bilateral and multilateral relations will improve as new domestically and externally facilitated engagements will develop in such spheres as travel facilitation, water management and cross-country regional engagement.
(p.15)

More cooperative region

Kyrgyzstan is currently the only country in the region where changes in power following elections function well. In the other four countries, a transition from one leader to the other has happened, though in a less transparent and open way.
(p.9)

Kyrgyzstan and changes in power

The overall SEnECA experts’ outlook on Central Asia countries and the region as a whole in 2030 is optimistic. When it comes to political systems and policies, including such issues as human rights, the rule of law and economics, the current vectors are likely to continue and determine the situation in 2030.
(p.4)

Optimistic Outlook

According to the United Nations forecasts, […] in 2030 the total population of Central Asia could reach 83.7 million people.
(p.3)

Forecast UN