European Union Delegation to Singapore

Uzbekistan and the EU

28/10/2020 - 12:27
EU relations with Country

Overview of political and economic relations between Uzbekistan and the European Union (EU).

Since Uzbekistan’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the EU and Uzbekistan have steadily strengthened their relations. Since 1996, the relationship is based on the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which extended cooperation from development to political affairs, trade and economics. The EU opened its diplomatic representation in Tashkent in 2011. Since 2016 EU-Uzbekistan relations have moved into a higher gear with the launch in 2018 of negotiations on a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA).

Under the 1996 PCA, the EU and Uzbekistan hold regular political meetings and cooperate on trade, investment, intellectual property, legislation, human rights, culture, development and the fight against illegal immigration. There are a number of other agreements complementing relations between the EU and Uzbekistan, notably the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the field of energy.

The PCA provides for several institutions, made up of European and Uzbek officials, to ensure implementation and monitoring:

  • The Cooperation Council of ministerial level meets once a year in Brussels and supervises implementation.
  • The Cooperation Committee of senior officials meets once a year either in Brussels or Tashkent and assists the Council.
  • Two Cooperation Subcommittees of experts provide technical assistance, meeting once a year in Brussels or Tashkent. These are the subcommittees for Justice and Home Affairs, Human Rights and related issues (JHA Subcommittee) and Trade, Investment, Energy and Transport (TIET Subcommittee).
  • There is also an annual Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Uzbekistan which meets back-to-back with the JHA Subcommittee.
  • The Parliamentary Cooperation Committee of members of the Uzbek Parliament and the European Parliament maintain political relations by meeting once a year in Brussels.

EU-Uzbek relations exist in the wider context of the European partnership with Central Asian countries . This includes regular political and human rights dialogues, as well as cooperation on numerous issues such as education, the rule of law and sustainable development.

In the “Team Europe” package adopted on 11 April 2020, 36 million euros of support is earmarked for Uzbekistan. This includes €2.2 million to address the immediate crisis through support the WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP); repurposing a €5m contribution to the Aral Sea Trust Fund towards the Covid-19 response; €1m support in the area of hospital waste management, in partnership with the Agence Française de Développement. €21m of budget support under the Agriculture programme will be brought forward to assist with post-Covid economic recovery. Additionally, the package includes €4m support for vulnerable farmers in the area of horticulture; €1.8m under the Public Administration Reform Programme, which the EU implements together with the UNDP, towards Covid response needs; and up to €1m in support of civil society organisations.

The EU provides financial assistance to Uzbekistan every year, primarily aimed at promoting economic development. Recent and ongoing EU projects in Uzbekistan have focused on the rule of law and criminal justice reform, social services — in particular mother and child health and inclusive education — rural development, civil society and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Over the period 2014-2020, the EU’s financial aid to Uzbekistan came to €168 million, a 124% increase over the 2007-2013 period. Under the Multi-Annual Indicative Programme, EU development assistance for Uzbekistan between 2014 and 2020 has concentrated on rural development. Goals have include poverty reduction and wealth creation in rural communities, the improvement of quality of life, living standards and food security of people residing in isolated or sparsely populated areas, and the protection of natural resources.

This rural aid goes beyond the traditional focus on agriculture as it supports income- and employment-generating investments in village infrastructure, local cooperatives, family farms and micro and small-sized enterprises. Rural development interventions may also include sustainable energy, improvement of water, sanitation and irrigation systems in rural areas and measures to increase resilience to climate change and natural or man-made disasters.

The EU’s regional cooperation programmes with Central Asia also benefit Uzbekistan. Regional projects for Central Asia support border management reform, the fight against drug trafficking, energy efficiency and renewables and regional cooperation in areas such as the rule of law, environment and education. The Investment Facility for Central Asia (IFCA) was launched in 2010 to combine EU development assistance with loans from European and international financial institutions for the five countries in Central Asia.

Uzbekistan can also benefit from the EU's various thematic cooperation programmes covering issues such as human and social development (Investing in people) , energy, the environmentmigration and asylumstability and peace, and democracy and human rights.

 

More information on Development Cooperation with Central Asia/Uzbekistan:

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

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

 

More information on energy cooperation:

https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/international-cooperation/key-partner-countries-and-regions/central-asia_en

Under the existing 1996 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, the EU and Uzbekistan grant each other most-favoured-nation treatment concerning:

  • custom duties and charges applied to imports and exports;
  • direct and indirect taxes applied to imported goods;
  • rules relating to sale, purchase, transport, distribution and use of goods on the domestic market.

The Agreement provides for removal of all quantitative restrictions on trade between the EU and Uzbekistan but also allows for the possibility of agreement over measures to protect domestic producers in cases where they may be harmed by imports. In addition, the PCA provides for economic cooperation to ensure Uzbekistan’s international trade respects the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Uzbekistan benefits from the EU's Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), which grants developing countries non-reciprocal access to the European market. The GSP is designed to encourage growth in developing countries and ensures that exporters from these countries pay lower or no duties on some or all of the products they sell to the EU. In June 2020 Uzbekistan applied for enhanced GSP+ status. The GSP+ scheme offers partners who ratify and implement certain United Nations conventions in the field of human rights and sustainable development preferential tariff-free access to the EU’s Single Market.

In 2019, trade between the EU and Uzbekistan was worth around €2.7 billion.

 

More information on trade with Central Asia/Uzbekistan:

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

More information on energy cooperation:

https://ec.europa.eu/energy/topics/international-cooperation/key-partner-countries-and-regions/central-asia_en

Every year the EU and Uzbekistan hold a Human Rights Dialogue back to back with a meeting of the PCA’s Justice and Home Affairs Subcommittee. At the Human Rights Dialogue, a broad range of human rights-related issues are discussed: the penitentiary system, prevention of torture and ill-treatment, labour rights, civil society, freedom of association and peaceful assembly  women's rights, children's right and non-discrimination, freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief.

The Justice and Home Affairs Subcommittee is an opportunity to discuss rule of law, good governance and reform of the judiciary, judicial cooperation, the fight against money laundering and corruption, migration, asylum and border management, counterterrorism and prevention of violent extremism.

The EPCA currently being negotiated will have an even stronger emphasis on democracy, rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms to support Uzbekistan in its reform and modernisation processes.

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