Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic

Kyrgyz Republic and the EU

29/10/2020 - 10:50
EU relations with Country

The EU and the Kyrgyz Republic have been partners since the country gained its independence in 1991. Over the years, relations between both sides have flourished.

The political foundations for the EU’s partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic were established in the 1999 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA).  The agreement aimed at strengthening the links between the Kyrgyz Republic and the EU.

Taking into account development of bilateral relations and emerging of new areas of interaction, the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic negotiated the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), which was initialled in July 2019. Once the legal procedures are finalised a  proposal for a Council Decision will be launched to pave the way for translations and then signature. The new agreement is expected to be signed in 2021.

The Kyrgyz Republic is also a partner in the new European Union Strategy on Central Asia: New opportunities for a strong partnership strategy, adopted in 2019.

EU holds annual political dialogues with Kyrgyzstan. Cooperation Council, at level of Foreign Ministers, focuses mainly on political matters, trade, economic and investment issues, as well on regional and international issues.

Cooperation Committees, a more technical meeting at level of Deputy Managing Director for the EU and Deputy Minister for Kyrgyzstan, focuses on democracy, rule of law, civil liberties and human rights, trade, energy, environment, bilateral development cooperation. It aims at taking stock of the progress/slowdown of Kyrgyzstan in carrying out political, social and economic reforms.

In light of COVID-19 pandemic, the EU has prepared a dedicated support package for Kyrgyzstan totalling to EUR 36 million. It is a comprehensive response directed towards supporting:

  • macro-financial stability;
  • social protection and food security;
  • health;
  • crisis management
  • support to the private sector.

The package includes EUR 30.8 million of budget support funds, which will contribute to the budgetary needs created by the crisis. This includes funding specifically to protect the most vulnerable as well as to ensure social protection and food security, among other basic services.

Until October 2020, EUR 24.8 million were transferred to Kyrgyz budget to execute social payments and cover social needs of the government. The negotiations on the remaining EUR 6 million from budget support are going on  between the EU and Kyrgyzstan.

Apart from budget support, EUR 5.2 million were reallocated by EU implemented projects to cover urgent needs of beneficiaries and population in Kyrgyzstan. For instance, the projects donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to medics in regions, Customs and Border Guard Services. Food packages were distributed among the most vulnerable families in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Several actions also support mental health of vulnerable groups and awareness-raising campaigns on COVID-19. So far, over 20,000 people have already received training through webinars on how to use, assess and disseminate online information, and on how to combat fake news related to the pandemic. 

In addition to bilateral support, the EU launched a comprehensive EUR 3 million  Central Asia COVID-19 Crisis Response (CACCR) solidarity package, addressing the health system challenges of Central Asian countries.

Economic activity between the EU and the Kyrgyz Republic is on the rise. Total trade with the EU amounted at approximately EUR 1152 million in 2019.

The recently adopted EPCA and new EU Strategy on Central Asia see trade and economic relations as an important area of cooperation, which still has a significant potential for development and strengthening the wellbeing of people. The EU also provides funds to various projects in the regions and nationally.

The organisation of a first EU-Central Asia economic forum in Bishkek, tentatively scheduled in 2021, would provide an opportunity to boost trade and investment between the Central Asia and the EU and to discuss post-Covid economic recovery.

The Kyrgyz Republic benefits from the EU's Generalised Scheme of Preferences plus (GSP+), the special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+). It provides additional tariff preferences to developing countries which are vulnerable due to a lack of diversification and insufficient integration within the international trading system, when exporting to the European Union (EU).

The GSP+ status allows the Kyrgyz Republic to strengthen its economy by exporting 6200 products to the European Union without any tariffs/with no tax duties regime. To benefit from GSP+, a product must either be wholly obtained in the Kyrgyz Republic, or must have undergone sufficient manufacturing, working or processing in the Kyrgyz Republic.

As a GSP+ beneficiary, Kyrgyzstan is under a legal obligation to maintain the ratification of the 27 conventions and to ensure their effective implementation. Kyrgyzstan’s performance in this regard is subject to an enhanced monitoring mechanism by the EU side.

The monitoring mechanism makes use of several tools. The first is the "scorecard", a table summarising the salient shortcomings of the country in the implementation of the conventions. Secondly, the Commission establishes a "dialogue on GSP+ compliancewith Kyrgyzstan, drawing its attention to the areas identified in the scorecard. The results are  included in the report on the compliance of GSP+ beneficiaries with the relevant criteria that the Commission has to transmit to the European Parliament and the European Council every two years.

Here you can find additional information regarding the Generalised Scheme of Preferences.

For additional information on the certification criteria, phytosanitary and rules of origins requirements which products have to fulfil for export to the EU, please visit the website of the Help Desk of the Directorate General for Trade of the European Commission: http://exporthelp.europa.eu/thdapp/index.htm

For information on how to export goods to a particular Member State of the European Union, please consider contacting its Embassy accredited to the Kyrgyz Republic. The full list of the Embassies of the EU Member States may be found here.

Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic may also contact the call center of the Ministry of Economy of the Kyrgyz Republic by a short phone number: 1220.

Useful documents:

  • Guide for users about the EU rules of origin for the GSP and GSP+. File may be downloaded in EnglishRussian and Kyrgyz languages.
  • Factsheet about the GSP+ in English language.
  • List of Kyrgyz goods under GSP+ in Russian and Kyrgyz languages.
  • Brochure on GSP+ in Kyrgyz and Russian languages.

 

More information on trade with Central Asia/Kyrgyzstan:

https://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/regions/central-asia/

Civil society actors have been active in promoting human rights and freedom of speech. The EU is committed to strengthening the role of civil society by encouraging non-State actors to become involved in the process.

The EU engages proactively with civil society, in particular with youth. In July 2019, first EU-Central Asia Civil Society Forum took place in Bishkek, creating a new forum for dialogue between different interlocutors, including 25 youth representatives from the region.

An important instrument that the EU uses to promote civil society and human rights is the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). The main objectives of the EIDHR are to:

  • help set up democratic institutions;
  • strengthen judicial and non-judicial human rights protection mechanisms;
  • provide training in human rights monitoring;
  • promote media independence;
  • support the abolition of the death penalty;
  • enhance women’s rights and the rights of vulnerable groups.

The recently adopted new EU Strategy on Central Asia  includes plans for human rights dialogue with all five Central Asian countries. This dialogue is vital for:

  • discussing questions of mutual interest and enhancing cooperation;
  • raising the concerns of the EU on human rights;
  • gathering information and launching initiatives to improve the human rights situation where required.

The EU also organises civil society seminars, attracting people from the community of human rights experts.

In the regional context the human rights situation in Kyrgyz Republic is much better . However, during the 10th EU-Kyrgyz Republic Human Rights Dialogue, which took place by video conference on 24 September 2020, challenges for human rights and freedoms stemming from the Covid-19 crisis were raised, such as high increase of domestic violence, including violence against children, as well the restrictions on independent media and information circulation in general.

The bilateral Development Cooperation is based on the Multiannual Indicative Programme (MEP) for 2014-2020 with the total budget of EUR 174 million. It is focused on three main sectors:

  •     Education (EUR 71.8 million)
  •     Rule of Law (EUR 37.8 million)
  •     Integrated Rural Development (EUR 61.8 million)

The new MIP for 2021-2027 will be developed by the European Union in close cooperation with the Kyrgyz Republic to address needs and provide necessary support to the country.

In addition to the bilateral programmes, the Kyrgyz Republic benefits from the regional programmes. For instance, the EU has provided around EUR 90 million grants to support investments, mainly in the water sector, through the EU Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA).

 

More information on Development Cooperation with Central Asia/Kyrgyzstan:

https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/where-we-work/central-asia_en

https://ec.europa.eu/international-partnerships/where-we-work/kyrgyzstan_en

Kyrgyzstan faces many environmental challenges, including waste and water management, land degradation and pollution. Since 2016, the country is developing its new environmental code, for which the adoption is still ongoing.

 The EU encourages Kyrgyzstan to strengthen environmental governance by joining and implementing multilateral environmental agreements. The EU calls Kyrgyzstan to cooperate with the downstream countries in the Central Asia region.

Regional cooperation on environment takes place under the EU-Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Co-operation. The EU-CA High Level Conference on Environment, Water and Climate Change took take place in Uzbekistan on 24 and 25 January 2019. It identified the following priorities for cooperation:

  • environmental governance;
  • sustainable consumption and production/circular economy;
  • water resources management;
  • climate change adaptation/mitigation.

A new phase of the WECOOP project (WECOOP III) that supports the work of the EU-Central Asia Platform for Environment and Water Co-operation has recently been signed. The last Working Group took place on 12-13 February 2020 in Brussels.

The Kyrgyz Republic signed the Paris Agreement on 21 September 2016. The Kyrgyz Parliament adopted the law for its ratification on 17 October 2019, and President Sooronbay Jeenbekov signed the law on 12 November 2019.

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