EU Projects with Kazakhstan
This page provides information about EU supported projects in Kazakhstan in areas such as human rights, education, energy, transport and the environment.
The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and Kazakhstan entered into force on 1 March 2020. This new agreement, which constitutes the first of its kind signed by the EU with one of its Central Asian partners, provides a comprehensive framework within which bilateral relations are conducted and has elevated relations between the EU and Kazakhstan to a new level.
The EU Strategy on Central Asia provides the overall framework for regional engagement. The Strategy, which focuses on resilience and prosperity, should support, amongst other priorities, Kazakhstan's transition to a green economy and the diversification of its economy.
Relations taken to a new level
The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement creates an enhanced legal basis for EU- Kazakhstan relations, providing a broad framework for reinforced political dialogue, comprehensive sectoral cooperation, and promoting mutual trade and investment. It will also enhance concrete cooperation in 29 other key policy areas, including in the sectors of:
- Justice and home affairs.
- Economic and financial cooperation.
- Energy and transport.
- Environment and climate change.
- Employment and social affairs.
- Culture, education and research.
EU – the main trade partner for Kazakhstan
The EU is by far Kazakhstan's most significant trade partner, representing 40% of its external trade. Kazakhstan's exports to the EU are almost entirely in the oil and gas sectors, alongside minerals, chemicals and food products.
In 2019, exports from Kazakhstan to the EU totalled €18.4 billion and the import volume from the EU to Kazakhstan totalled €5.9 billion. The EU is also the first foreign investor in Kazakhstan, representing 48% of total gross Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows and approximately 60% of total net FDI stocks in 2018.
From a broader perspective, enhanced EU-Asia connectivity is crucial to Kazakhstan. In this context, a level playing field for business is key, notably by enhancing transparency of public procurement in infrastructure, including through accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) and the adoption of GPA standards.
A NEW BILATERAL PARTNERSHIP
Support from the European Union has been important to Kazakhstan’s development since the country’s independence in 1991. More than 350 projects amounting to €180 million have been funded by the EU.
To support the implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, a bilateral Cooperation Facility of EUR 9 million for 2021-2024 includes capacity development and institution building activities, support for policy dialogues leading to policy reforms, communication activities.The Cooperation Facility focuses on two priority areas:
a) green economic growth, with a focus on trade facilitation between Kazakhstan and the EU and the support to the green transition of the Kazakh economy
b) Rule of Law to strengthen the legal framework and institutions in place, including local administrations to support the decentralisation reform process as well as possible support to institutions at national level.
This facility can be implemented once a bilateral Financing Agreement is signed between Kazakhstan and the European Commission.
In addition, the EU supports civil society organisations and their role as local governance and accountability actors and as promoters of inclusive and sustainable growth. We are proud to support civil society organisations in strengthening their collaboration with local authorities to increase transparency in decision-making and localise Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the benefit of people throughout Kazakhstan. The EU Delegation publishes regularly Call for Proposals for NGOs in these areas.
As a result of the 2021 Call for Proposals under the EU’s thematic programme “Civil Society Organisations and Local Authorities”, the following projects are now implemented with the EU grant financing for the total amount of EUR 997,447:
- Your Voice Matters, Civic Tech Solutions for Decision-making. Overall objective: to strengthen the role of women and youth in local decision-making processes to foster responsive, inclusive and representative decision-making at all levels in Kazakhstan. Coordinator: Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia
- JAILYM ‒ Multi-actor partnerships and innovation at the service of economic and environmental sustainability of grazing activities in Enbekshi-Kazakh District. Overall objective: to contribute to improving the role of CSOs and Local Authorities (LAs) in tackling the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss on pastures and agriculture in Enbekshi-Kazakh District of the Almaty Region. Coordinator: FELCOS UMBRIA – Fund of Local Authorities for Decentralised Cooperation and Sustainable Human Development, Italy
- Participation of the civil society in mitigation of the climate change in Karaganda Oblast of Kazakhstan. Overall objective: to increase participation of civil society in tackling climate change in Karaganda Region in order to contribute to Kazakhstan's achievement of the Paris Agreement goals. Coordinator: ARNIKA – Citizens Support Centre, Czech Republic
- Development and implementation of mechanisms of local self-government to improve the quality of life and economic development in rural settlements of three rural districts of the North Kazakhstan region. Overall objective: to strengthen local self-governance institutions and mechanisms to support economic development in Kyzylzhar, Aiyrtau and Mamlutka rural districts of the North Kazakhstan region. Coordinator: INTEGRITY ASTANA, Kazakhstan
As a result of the 2022 Call for Proposals within the Thematic Programme on Human Rights and Democracy, the following projects are now implemented with the EU grant financing for the total amount of EUR 500,000:
- Promotion of human rights in the media. Overall objective: to promote human rights through strengthening the capacity of media and NGOs. Coordinator: North Kazakhstan Legal Media Centre.
- Kazakhstan Uncensored. Overall objective: to promote and protect fundamental freedom of expression in Kazakhstan. Coordinator: Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
The 2023 Call for Proposals (EuropeAid/176656/DD/ACT/KZ) to support civil society organisations in Kazakhstan through the following thematic programmes: (i) Human Rights & Democracy (HRD); (ii) Civil Society Organisations (CSO) was launched on 30 January 2023. The deadline for the submission of concept notes: 24 March 2023.
REGIONAL COOPERATION IN CENTRAL ASIA
The European Union’s engagement with the region has significantly expanded since the early 1990s, building upon Central Asia’s geographical location and tradition of bringing Europe and Asia together. Both regions share strong common interests in prosperity, connectivity, energy and security.
As part of global efforts to build back better following the COVID-19 pandemic, and to help mitigate the socio-economic impact of the new geopolitical context, the EU is supporting the countries of Central Asia in their efforts to:
- Boost investment
- Increase regional cooperation and connectivity between the EU and Central Asia
- Support the green transition of the economies in Central Asia.
Our regional activities are part of the EU Global Gateway initiative, to develop climate, energy, transport and digital networks and infrastructure and their health, education and research systems in the region.
Through Global Gateway, the EU and its Member States provide their technical and financial support under fair and favourable terms in order to limit the risk of debt distress. It helps build sustainable and secure infrastructure with the support, skills and the finance needed to operate it. Investments in critical priorities are promoted, ensuring proper transparency, good governance and high standards of human, social and workers’ rights.
Under the 2021-2027 regional Central Asia programme, €140 million are allocated to the region in the different priority areas.
The European Union’s development priorities in Central Asia, in line with its commitment to implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), aim at meeting the increasing needs from growing and young populations and at providing economic opportunities.
The EU's development priorities are focused in a region lacking economic diversification, facing significant environmental challenges, and in which the levels of intraregional trade and investment flows remain sub-optimal.
Assistance provided by the European Commission combined with assistance provided by EU Member States individually makes the European Union the number one provider of development assistance in the region. European Commission assistance to Central Asia reached €1.1 billion for the period 2014-2020. To better tailor the development programmes to each country’s specificities, such as their existing level of development and an assessment of needs, the European Union employs a differentiated approach to its assistance, with a focus on the poorest and the most fragile countries.
Regional programmes aim at supporting a broad-based process of dialogue and collaboration between the five Central Asian countries. Regional cooperation is important for energy, climate, water, environment and socio-economic development, but also in the area of civil society development and rule of law.
Rule of Law
The Central Asia Rule of Law Programme is implemented by the Council of Europe over the period of four years (2020-2023) with the overall budget of €8 889 000 (90% is funded by the European Union, 10% by the Council of Europe). The Programme is open to all Central Asian countries wishing to benefit from the Council of Europe expertise and meeting the conditions for co-operation in line with the policy of the Council of Europe towards neighbouring regions. The Programme is also in line with the European Union Strategy for Central Asia. The Programme aims to improve the lives of citizens by reinforcing human rights, rule of law and democracy in accordance with European and other international standards, based on a demand-driven approach.
DARYA, which stands for Dialogue and Action for Resourceful Youth in Central Asia, is a EUR 10 million programme implemented by ETF that will support inclusive skills development, relevant to labour market needs, for young women and men in the five Central Asian countries.The two specific objectives of DARYA are:
- To foster the quality and inclusiveness of education, training and employment systems in Central Asia;
- To foster participatory and inclusive dialogue and cooperation mechanisms at national and regional level.
CACCR, which stands for Central Asia COVID-19 Crisis Response, is a EUR 10,3 million programme co-financed by the EU and the WHO that contributes to mitigating the impact and controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the region and reinforcing their longer-term health resilience.This Action provides assistance for:
- A rapid and safe roll-out of vaccines;
- Building long-term resilience of routine immunization systems;
- Building the capacity for the region to achieve universal health coverage through digitalization of health systems.
Ready for Trade (R4T) is a 4-year EU-funded Project is a trade component of a larger EU-funded programme which aims to support Investment, Competitiveness and Trade in Central Asia (CA), thus contributing to sustainable and inclusive economic development in the region.
The Project supports the development of intra-regional and international trade in 5 CA countries. This is done by enhancing the transparency of cross-border requirements, removing regulatory and procedural barriers, strengthening business capability to comply with trade formalities and standards, as well as by improving cross-border e-commerce. The Project is implemented by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in close collaboration with national partners of the 5 CA countries.
Read more: https://intracen.org/our-work/projects/central-asia-ready4trade-r4tca
SECCA, which stands for the EU Support to Sustainable Energy Connectivity in Central Asia, is a EUR 6.8 million programme aiming at promoting a more sustainable energy mix in the Central Asian region in line with the EU best practices.
The programme will tackled climate change issues by optimizing energy efficiency and renewable energy development. The SECCA project has developed a detailed work plan for each country and activities will be conducted at country-specific and/or regional level.
Central Asia Water and Energy Programme (CAWEP) is a partnership between the World Bank, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the European Union (with the EU contribution of EUR 7 million) to strengthen the enabling environment to promote energy and water security at regional level and in the five beneficiary countries in Central Asia. It is structured along three pillars: (1) energy security; (2); water security and (3) energy-water linkages.
CAWEP works at the national scale to strengthen national institutional capacities and sector performance, while at the same time keeping regional cooperation on the dialogue agenda to create an enabling environment for achieving national and regional energy and water security.
In the current, third phase of implementation, CAWEP continues to support analytical development, institutional strengthening and investment preparation and mobilization through research, training and expert advice also through support to regional organizations such as the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea (IFAS).
TEI on Digital Connectivity
This flagship aims to develop the legal and regulatory environment for satellite communication, and establish Satellite connectivity operators (SatComs) in Central Asian countries with direct connectivity to the EU.We intend to support satellite connectivity in Central Asia by building infrastructure known as ‘Earth stations’ with integrated Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) and Green Data Centres: landing points for the connectivity, complementing national fibre broadband development projects.Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are confirmed, and we are open to the inclusion of Turkmenistan.
TEI on Water, Energy, Climate
This flagship will contribute to managing water and energy resources sustainably, addressing environmentalchallenges and tackling climate change in the five Central Asian countries.To achieve its objective, the Team Europe Initiative will focus on:
- Improving regional cooperation and governance for sustainable development in Central Asia;
- Increasing investment in a regionally integrated green and energy transition in Central Asia.
Other forms of the EU Cooperation with Kazakhstan
The EU supports Kazakhstan’s ongoing legal reforms and the promotion of human rights offering experience and know-how in particular through financial and technical cooperation and specific projects funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights.
With a budget of €1 million per year, the EU finances a variety of projects in Kazakhstan that focus on encouraging a pluralistic political system while strengthening the role of civil society.
Kazakhstan also benefits from a number of instruments and programmes:
- The Instrument for Nuclear Safety Cooperation which promotes a high level of nuclear safety, radiation protection, and the application of efficient and effective safeguards of nuclear material in third countries.
- The Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace focusing on crisis response, crisis preparedness and conflict prevention.
- The Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) and the Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP).
- Erasmus+ supporting mobility of students and academic staff and capacity building projects.
The EU is allocating €454.2 million for regional cooperation projects in Central Asia for the 2014-2020 funding period, including €115 million for the Erasmus+ programme. Erasmus+ has offered already more than 2,000 short-term scholarships for Kazakh students or staff to come to study or train in Europe, and nearly 1,000 scholarships for European students to study in Kazakhstan. Additionally, 137 Kazakh master students have received a scholarship to complete a joint master programme in Europe.
In 2019, in response to a proposal from the Kazakh Government, the EU launched a €2 million programme, implemented by UNDP in collaboration with UN Women, to support the economic empowerment of Afghan women through education and training in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
This action aims to build resilience and support the socio-economic empowerment of Afghan women through education and training in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This first trilateral cooperation programme between the EU, Afghanistan and Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) adds a new dimension to the development cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan also benefits from Erasmus+, supporting the mobility of students and academic staff and capacity building projects.The EU is allocating €76 million (2021-2027) for the Erasmus+ programme in Central Asia. In its previous phase, Erasmus+ offered more than 3,300 short-term scholarships for Kazakh students or staff to come to study or train in Europe, and over 1,500 scholarships for European students to study in Kazakhstan. Since 2014, 328 Kazakh master students have received a scholarship to complete a joint master programme in Europe.Capacity building projects for universities continue to be very popular in Kazakhstan. After participating in 49 of the 70 projects funded in Central Asia from 2014-20, Kazakh universities are now involved in four of the nine Central Asia projects selected in 2022.Selected projects address curriculum development and modernisation, including new teaching and learning practices, improving university governance and creating better links between higher education and the world of work.
Kazakh science and research institutions can also apply for funds under the Horizon Europe program.
Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation with a budget of €95.5 billion. It tackles climate change, helps to achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and boosts the EU’s competitiveness and growth.
The programme facilitates collaboration and strengthens the impact of research and innovation in developing, supporting and implementing EU policies while tackling global challenges. It supports creating and better dispersing of excellent knowledge and technologies. It creates jobs, fully engages the EU’s talent pool, boosts economic growth, promotes industrial competitiveness and optimises investment impact within a strengthened European Research Area.
Kazakhstan benefits also from TAIEX and SOCIEUX+ programmes.
TAIEX is the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange instrument. TAIEX supports public administrations with regard to the approximation, application and enforcement of EU legislation as well as facilitating the sharing of EU best practices. It is largely needs-driven and delivers appropriate tailor-made expertise to address issues at short notice in three ways:
- Workshops: EU Member State experts present specific areas of EU legislation in workshops to a large number of beneficiary officials.
- Expert missions: EU Member States expert(s) are sent to the beneficiary administration to provide in-depth advice on the transposition, implementation or enforcement of a specific part of EU legislation.
- Study visits: a group of five practitioners from a beneficiary administration take part in a study visit to an EU Member State’s administration.
SOCIEUX+ EU Expertise on Social Protection, Labour and Employment is a facility for technical cooperation between public and social partner peers established and co-funded by the EU. The general objective is to expand and improve access to better employment opportunities and inclusive social protection systems.
Based on the peer exchange model, SOCIEUX+ shares knowledge and experiences through short-term missions and activities that enhance the capacity to design, manage, and monitor inclusive, effective, and sustainable employment strategies and social protection systems.
Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA) / European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) are regional blending facilities, designed to combine EU grants with other financial resources provided by international financial institutions (e.g.: EIB, EBRD) and other public and private sources, in order to leverage additional non-grant financing. By reducing, through co-financing, the overall cost of the project and/or its perceived risk, the IFCA encourages beneficiary governments, private sector and/or public institutions to carry out essential investments in sectors that could otherwise be postponed/ not financed at all.
The IFCA has been established in 2010 and since 2022, it is being replaced by the EFSD+. IFCA/EFSD+ are aligned with the objectives of the ’EU-Central Asia Strategy for a New Partnership’. The main purpose of these two funds is to promote additional SDGs-relevant investments in key infrastructure, with a focus on climate, green action and environmental protection, including energy efficiency, waste and water management. In addition, the investment allocations help to improve access to finance for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and to promote social sector investments.