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Central Asia: European Union matches political commitment with further concrete support

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To underpin the European Union’s political commitment and kick-start the implementation of the new EU Central Asia Strategy, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, at the EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, today presented a set of EU funded regional programmes. These programmes will support the environment, climate action, sustainable consumption and production, energy, gender equality, counter-terrorism, and education. 

Coming on top of over €1 billion of bilateral and regional assistance for the period 2014-2020, these programmes, worth €72 million, will benefit all countries of the region – Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan.

“The positive regional dynamics in Central Asia and a demand for closer cooperation with the European Union presents a significant opportunity for a closer, stronger partnership”, said High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini. “Our new Strategy for the region will enable us to cooperate more closely with the countries of Central Asia in tackling the challenges they face: from sustainable development to economic diversification, strengthening civil society and human rights to providing expertise and financial support for reform processes. We are ready to build on the enormous momentum gained over the last five years, as a consistent and reliable partner, to foster resilience, prosperity and regional cooperation.”

Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added: “The EU’s contribution worth €72 million boosts our strong partnership with Central Asia, for the benefit of our citizens. Together with national governments, civil society and the private sector we will work to create opportunities and shared prosperity, while protecting our planet for future generations.”

The new programmes announced today cover:

Sustainable energy: The EU will invest €20 million in a new hydropower plant in Tajikistan, with additional support from Germany. This hydropower plant will create new opportunities for Tajikistan to meet increasing demand, and to export excess electricity to neighbouring countries, including to northern Afghanistan.

Economic empowerment: The EU will invest €2 million in the economic empowerment of women in the region. This project will be implemented together with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It will provide Afghan women with the skills they need to participate in the economic development of Afghanistan, and contribute to closer peaceful ties with Central Asia. 

Education: The EU also launched a new €36 million programme in support of the education sector in Kyrgyzstan. This financing agreement will support Kyrgyzstan’s education development strategy, in order to better formulate, implement and monitor education policy. It will help to improve resource allocation, ensure equitable access across gender, ethnicity and linguistic background, and enhance the synergy between skills and labour market needs. 

Inclusive sustainable growth: The EU has extended the activities of the SWITCH Asia Programme, with an amount of €14 million. The programme will support sustainable consumption and production and promote inclusive sustainable growth. It aims to reduce poverty and contribute to economic prosperity in Central Asia.

In addition to those programmes announced today, several others are in preparation: 

Sustainable development: The EU is preparing a contribution in support of the initiative of the Government of Uzbekistan to establish the Multi-Partner Trust Fund for Human Security for the Aral Sea Region, under the auspices of the United Nations. The initiative will reduce vulnerability of the people living around the lake and advance sustainable development in the Aral Sea region. 

Intra-regional trade: The EU will launch an upgraded phase of the Border Management in Central Asia programme. With this new phase, the EU aims to increase security and facilitate intra-regional trade in Central Asia and Afghanistan through integrated border management. 

Health: The EU will furthermore launch the next phase of the Central Asia Drugs Action Programme. The goal is to work on integrated, balanced and evidence-based drug policies.

Counter-terrorism: New technical assistance to support law enforcement capacities and regional cooperation in countering terrorism.

Background 

The High Representative and the European Commission set out a vision for a renewed partnership with Central Asia in May 2019. This Joint Communication was endorsed by EU Foreign Ministers at the June Foreign Affairs Council. The new strategy comes at a key moment of fast-developing Euro-Asian connectivity, reform and opening up in some of the countries of Central Asia, and new momentum for regional cooperation.

The Strategy focuses the EU’s engagement on strengthening resilience and enhancing prosperity, as well as investing in regional cooperation in Central Asia.

EU cooperation with Central Asia amounts to over €1 billion, including both bilateral and regional assistance, for the period 2014-2020.

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Towards a Conference on the Future of Europe

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The Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote on Monday on its suggestions to Parliament’s leaders for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

On Monday 9 December, MEPs from the Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote on their input to Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (i.e. President Sassoli and political group leaders) on the organisation of the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

Following the establishment of the relevant Working Group by Parliament’s leaders, the Constitutional Affairs Committee was invited to contribute to its work in line with its leading role on topics of significance affecting the future of Europe. This will in turn help define Parliament’s position in the negotiations with the Council and the Commission on the structure, mission and objectives of the Conference.

When: Monday, 9 December, 18.00 – 20.00

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, Spinelli building, room 3E2

Background

The Conference, to be organised by Parliament, Council and Commission, is among Commission President von der Leyen’s most prominent commitments. It is expected to start in 2020 and run for two years, involving a cross-section of society to give citizens the chance to contribute in shaping the future of the EU.

The most recent in a series of debates in the Constitutional Affairs Committee was a public hearing with Parliament’s Vice-President Othmar Karas (EPP, AT), European Economic and Social Committee President Luca Jahier, Committee of the Regions President Karl-Heinz Lambertz and a range of academic and civil society experts, as well as the two Commission Vice-Presidents: Dubravka Šuica (Democracy and Demography) and Věra Jourová (Values and Transparency).

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8th Euronest Assembly: The future of relations with Eastern partners

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Energy security, EU-Eastern relations and geopolitical challenges are set to be among the focus points of the 8th session of the joint parliamentary assembly.

Members of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly will meet in Tbilisi, Georgia, for the 8th Ordinary Session, from 8 to 10 December. The Assembly is comprised of 60 MEPs and 10 members from each of the participating parliaments of the Eastern European partners (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine).

Georgian Parliament Speaker Archil Talakvadze will open the session on 9 December. The meetings will be co-chaired by MEP Andrius Kubilius (EPP, LT) and Ivan Krulko, member of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament).

European Parliament President David Sassoli will be represented in Tbilisi by Vice-President Klara Dobrev (S&D, HU).

Political affairs, economic integration, energy security and social matters

The opening session will be preceded by several meetings of the different Euronest committees and working groups, focussing on a wide range of subjects.

Participants will adopt resolutions on political affairs, economic integration, energy security and social matters. As 2019 marks the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership, members will also reflect on the future of this policy, in the run-up to the next Eastern Partnership Summit scheduled to take place in the spring of 2020.

Background

The Euronest PA was established on 3 May 2011 in Brussels, when the Presidents (or their representatives) of the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and European Parliaments signed the Assembly’s Constitutive Act.

The mission of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is to promote the conditions necessary to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the EU and the Eastern European Partners, as well as to strengthen cooperation within the region and between the region and the EU. The multilateral Assembly contributes to strengthening, developing and making the Eastern Partnership visible.

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Climate change should be EU Parliament’s first priority, according to citizens

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Combating climate change should be Parliament’s top priority, new Eurobarometer reveals, highlighting youth-led climate protests as great influencers.

“Combating climate change and preserving our environment, oceans and biodiversity” should be the European Parliament’s (EP) biggest priority, EU citizens say in a new Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the EP and conducted in October 2019. Climate change was already one of the leading reasons for voting in the European elections last May, especially for young people. Now, for the first time, citizens are putting climate change at the top of a Eurobarometer priority list.

In total, 32% of Europeans point towards the fight against climate change and preserving the environment as the most important issue for MEPs to address. It is the most mentioned item in 11 member states, especially in Sweden (62%), Denmark (50%) and The Netherlands (46%).

The Eurobarometer survey also asked respondents which environmental concern is the most pressing. An absolute majority of Europeans (52%) believe that it is climate change, followed by air pollution (35%), marine pollution (31%), deforestation and the growing amount of waste (both 28%).

Parliament President David Maria Sassoli, (S&D, IT), who arrives in Madrid on Monday to attend the opening of the UN COP25 climate change conference, said: “This survey shows very clearly that Europeans want action from the EU on combatting climate change. Yesterday in Strasbourg, the European Parliament approved a resolution declaring a climate and environmental emergency in Europe and globally. We are listening to our citizens and stressing the need to move beyond words to action”.

Youth-led protests make a difference

Over the course of the past year, youth-led protests have mobilised millions of people in the EU and globally.

This new Eurobarometer survey shows that close to six out of ten European citizens are confident or convinced that youth-led protests have a direct impact on policy at both national and European level.

The Irish (74%), Swedes (71%) and Cypriots (70%) are most convinced that the protests will lead to political measures being taken at EU level, compared to 42% of Czechs and 47% of UK citizens.

Background

Since 1973, the Eurobarometer has measured European citizens’ perceptions of and expectations of the EU. Kantar collected the data for this Eurobarometer and the fieldwork took place 8-22 October 2019 in all 28 EU member states. A sample of 27,607 representative respondents above the age of 15 were interviewed face-to-face for the report. The data and the full report will be published on 10 December 2019.

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