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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.