The European Union and the Republic of Uzbekistan held their 16th Cooperation Committee Meeting on 24 October in Tashkent. The meeting took place against the backdrop of the ongoing negotiations on the EU-Uzbekistan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA).
Uzbekistan has adopted a positive approach to relations with its neighbours and to international partners. This approach will contribute to enhanced regional stability, prosperity and people-to-people exchanges and allow Uzbekistan and the region to draw the full benefits from new initiatives for sustainable connectivity in Eurasia and provide new opportunities for European businesses.
The EU, for its part, continues to have frequent and intense high-level EU engagement with Uzbekistan and the region, as illustrated by the visit of the President of the European Council Donald Tusk on 31 May 2019 to Uzbekistan and meeting with the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as well as participation of the HR/VP Federica Mogherini in central Asia Ministerial Meeting in Bishkek on 6 July 2019.
The Cooperation Committee reviewed the latest economic developments in Uzbekistan and in the EU, with a focus on the latest economic reforms in Uzbekistan. The Cooperation Committee also discussed the EU support for accession to the WTO, as well as the progress in EPCA negotiations.
The Cooperation Committee also reviewed recent developments as regards human rights, where Uzbekistan has demonstrated a constructive attitude towards civil society, media, and critical voices in general. In this context, they discussed the importance of continuing this positive trend by taking additional steps, across a wide range of areas, in order to further promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in the country.
The Cooperation Committee was also informed about the results of the 2nd meeting of the Sub-Committee on Development Cooperation, which was held on October 23, 2019 in Tashkent. The EU is stepping up its support and introducing new approaches, by blending grants with credits from European Financial Institutions to attract investments and preparing the ground for the possible use of budget support to better support the country’s reform agenda. Uzbekistan’s newly established relations with the European Investment Bank and the resumption of activities of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are now leading to the first significant projects being financed by these institutions. The extension of several on-going programmes in the areas of rural development, security and education reconfirm the interest of beneficiaries in the expertise of EU Member States.
The participants also discussed ways to further improve the business climate in Uzbekistan and to increase bilateral economic exchanges and investment.
The Cooperation Committee meeting will report to the next meeting of the EU-Uzbekistan Cooperation Council, which will take place at the level of Foreign Ministers later this year in Brussels.