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