The European Union (EU) and Central Asia are increasingly becoming neighbours. Through the EU Strategy for Central Asia that was established in 2007, Brussels has been stepping up engagement with Central Asia on many policy areas: security, energy, economic development, trade, transport routes, human rights, the rule of law and education.
This paper seeks to give a brief overview of EU policy towards Central Asia with a specific focus on the link between energy, security and values. It concludes by arguing that the EU’s policy to Central Asia is overstretched and needs to be embedded further in the region by increasingly fostering local ownership. The EU assistance funds are too limited and the Central Asian regimes too restrictive to make it possible for the EU to have an impact in all policy areas. Choices need to be made in the key areas of values, security and energy.
The EU should seek to integrate normative aspects of human rights, good governance and the rule of law in all aspects of its engagement. Stronger energy and security relations can only be stable and prosperous if Central Asia increasingly meets international human rights and governance commitments.
By Jos Boonstra, Senior Researcher, FRIDE