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Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Union (EU) were established on February 2, 1993 with Kazakhstan opening its embassy and Mission to the EU in Brussels in December of that year.
In November 1994, the EU opened its Delegation in Almaty, which was transferred to Nur-Sultan (former Astana) in 2007.
Since May 22, 2018 – HE Aigul Kuspan is Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to the Kingdom of Belgium. She is also the Head of the Republic of Kazakhstan's Mission to the European Union since October 22, 2018.
Since the 1990s the EU has significantly enhanced its engagement with Central Asia. In 2007, the EU adopted its first Strategy on Central Asia which established a regular political dialogue and enhanced cooperation in key initiatives including the rule of law, education and the environment. On 17 June 2019, the European Council adopted a new EU strategy on Central Asia, with EU Member States welcoming the strengthening of relations between the EU and Kazakhstan and other countries in the region; a development that was warmly welcomed by Kazakhstan.
An annual dialogue has been established in the EU-Central Asia (EU-CA) format at the level of foreign ministers.
Since its establishment, 15 meetings of the EU-CA foreign ministers have taken place: including in Astana (2007), Ashgabat (2008), Dushanbe (2009), Brussels (2010), Tashkent (2011), Bishkek (2012), Brussels (2013), Astana (2015), Brussels (2016), Samarkand (2017). Brussels (2018). The latest ministerial meeting is was held on 7 July 2019 in Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic) on the topic of "The EU and Central Asia: Forging a Stronger Partnership Together"
Kazakhstan also supported the EU's initiative to organize a high-level EU-Central Asia Security Dialogue.
The high level events have taken place in Brussels (2013 and 2016), in Dushanbe (2015), in Bishkek (2017), and in Ashgabat (2018). The next meeting is scheduled in Brussels in 2019.
On 21 December 2015, Kazakhstan and the EU signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) in Nur-Sultan. The EPCA is the first of its kind signed by the EU with one of its Central Asian partners. The agreement not only significantly elevates relations between Kazakhstan and the EU. Its provisions and the updated Rules of Procedure, also envisage a new architecture for Kazakhstan-EU cooperation structures:
Cooperation Committee "in a political configuration";
Cooperation Committee "in the trade configuration."
At the expert level, there are three Subcommittees:
The Subcommittee on Justice, Freedom and Security, which also hosts the Dialogue on Human Rights;
Subcommittee on Energy, Transport, Environment and Climate Change;
Subcommittee on Customs Affairs.
In addition, within the framework of bilateral parliamentary cooperation between the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the European Parliament, the EPCA establishes a:
Parliamentary Cooperation Committee.
The EPCA's provisional application started on 1 May 2016 and will replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) in force since 1999, once ratified by all EU Member States (which is scheduled to take before the end of 2019).
Trade and Economic Cooperation
The EU is Kazakhstan's most prominent trade and investment partner, accounting for about half of Kazakhstan's foreign trade turnover and foreign capital in the economy of our republic.
According to the State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan, the foreign trade turnover of Kazakhstan with EU Member States from January to December 2017 amounted to USD 30 billion (exports - 24.3 billion, imports - 5.7 billion), which corresponds to 49.8% of the total foreign trade of Kazakhstan (which amounts to USD 60.2 billion). In 2016 the trade turnover with EU Member States was at the level of USD 24.1 billion (exports - 18.4 billion, imports - 5.7 billion), which corresponded to 50% of the total foreign trade of Kazakhstan (which amounted to USD 48.3 billion).
In 2018, the foreign trade turnover amounted to USD 37.7 billion (exports - 31 billion, imports - 6.7 billion).
According to the National Bank of Kazakhstan, in 2017, the gross inflow of FDI from the European Union reached USD 9.8 billion out of USD 20.7 billion.
During the first 6 months of 2018, the gross inflow of FDI from the European Union reached USD 5.7 billion out of USD 12.3 billion of the total attracted. The main investing countries are the Netherlands (3.8 billion), Belgium (797 million), France (432 million), Great Britain (282 million), Germany (145 million) and Luxembourg (65 million).
In light of the increased growth in visits by both EU and Kazakh citizens given enhanced Kazakhstan-EU relations, Kazakhstan is in favor of the simplification of the current Kazakhstan-EU visa regime.
An agreement with the European External Action Service provides European expert assistance in adapting Kazakhstan's legislation to EU requirements within the fields of migration and visa arrangements, in order to facilitate the initiation of negotiations on the simplification of the current visa regime applicable between Kazakhstan and the EU.
History of Kazakhstan-EU Relations
The legal-treaty basis of Kazakhstan-European relations is the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between Kazakhstan and the EU, signed on January 23, 1995 in Brussels by President Nazarbayev and Chairman of the European Council Alain Juppé (which entered into force on July 1, 1999).
From June 2011 to October 2014, negotiations took place on a new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and EU (EPCA). On December 21, 2015, the EPCA was signed during a visit of the High Representative Mogherini to Nur-Sultan. The document covers 29 areas of cooperation, including international and regional security, trade, investment, infrastructure development, as well as innovation, culture, sports and tourism.
On March 25, 2016, President Nazarbayev signed the Law of ratification of EPCA.
On May 1, 2016, the provisional application of certain provisions of EPCA that fall within the competence of the European Union began. Ratification of the Agreement by all EU member states is necessary in order for the EPCA to enter in to force fully.
Currently, the Agreement has been ratified by 27 EU member states: (Latvia - July 7, 2016, Slovakia - September 30, 2016, Lithuania - November 8, 2016, Czech Republic - November 14, 2016, Bulgaria - January 6, 2017 , Poland- January 27, 2017, Hungary - February 13, 2017, Denmark - February 16, 2017, Austria - April 25, 2017, Finland - April 28, 2017, Sweden - May 18, 2017, Slovenia - June 13, 2017, Portugal - June 14, 2017, Germany - June 23, 2017, Spain - June 30, 2017, Romania - July 3, 2017, Belgium - November 10, 2017, Greece - 28 November 2017, Estonia - December 14, 2017; Luxembourg - March 19, 2018, Malta - March 20, 2018, Croatia - April 18, 2018, France - May 17, 2018, United Kingdom - November 20, 2018, Ireland - November 22, 2018).
On December 12, 2017, during the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg, MEPs overwhelmingly agreed to the conclusion of EPCA.
Overview of High Level Visits and Meetings
Maintaining excellent relations with the EU is of particular strategic importance to Kazakhstan. This is illustrated by the fact that the President of Kazakhstan visited Brussels 9 times (February 1993, June 2000, November 2002, December 2006, April and October 2010, October 2014, March 2016, October 2018), conducting high-level talks with the EU leadership.
Meetings of the President of Kazakhstan with the leadership of the European Union are also held at various international fora (e.g. with the J.M. Barroso, President of the European Commission in framework of NATO Summit in Lisbon on November 20, 2010, during the Nuclear Summit in Kiev on April 19, 2011 and at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 24, 2014; with Jean-Claude Juncker, the President of the European Commission on the sidelines of G20 Summit on September 4, 2016, and at the 12th ASEM Summit (Asia -Europe Meeting) in Brussels on October 19, 2018).
From 1 to 2 December 2010, the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy visited Kazakhstan for the first time, where he took part in the OSCE Summit in Astana.
On 2 May 2012, Prime Minister Karim Massimov met the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht in Brussels.
From 2 to 3 June 2013, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visited Kazakhstan. It was his first official visit to the country.
From 8 to 9 2014, the President of Kazakhstan visited Brussels for a meeting with the President of the European Commission J.M. Barroso. During his visit, he signed documents on the completion of negotiations on the draft of Kazakhstan-EU Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and the completion of negotiations between Kazakhstan and the European Union on the accession of Kazakhstan to the WTO.
In May 2015 (4 to 5), European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visited Nur-Sultan. During the meeting with President Nazarbayev he was awarded the medal "Dostyk" 1 degree. During the visit, President Barroso met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan Erlan Idrisov and the leadership of the Nazarbayev University.
On 30 March 2016, President Nazarbayev visited Brussels where he met with the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and President of the European Council Donald Tusk. The President visited Brussels again on 19 October 2018, attending the 12th ASEM Summit and meeting with Commission President Juncker on the sidelines of the summit.
On 29 May 2019, Council President Donald Tusk visited Kazakhstan and other countries in the Central Asia region, marking the EU's commitment to strengthen our partnership. During his visit to Kazakhstan, President Tusk met with President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and First President Nursultan Nazarbayev. Regional and bilateral cooperation topped the agenda with the topics of climate change, environmental protection, border management, and regional security also featuring high on the agenda.
Overview of Meetings Held at the Ministerial Level (Foreign Affairs)
The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, visited Kazakhstan four times: participating in an informal meeting of OSCE foreign ministers (July 16-17, 2010); in the framework of an official visit (November 29-30, 2012); participating in the E3 + 3 negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program (February 25-26 and April 5-6, 2013).
July 18, 2011, Brussels - in the framework of OSCE-EU "triples" meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Erzhan Kazykhanov met with High Representative Ashton.
September 22, 2011, New York - in the framework of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, the Foreign Minister Kazykhanov met with the High Representative Ashton, in the format of a bilateral OIC-EU meeting.
February 2, 2012, Brussels - Foreign Minister Kazykhanov met with High Representative Ashton.
January 28-30, 2013, Brussels - Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov met with the Commission President Barroso, Deputy Secretary General of EEAS Helga Schmidt, EU Special Representative for Central Asia P. Flor, Vice President European Parliament O. Karas and members of the European Parliament's Delegation for Central Asia.
December 21, 2015, High Representative Federica Mogherini visited Astana to attend the EU-Central Asia Ministerial Meeting and signed the new Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and EU.
In 2016, Foreign Minister Idrissov visited Brussels two times: in March in the framework of a working visit of the President Nazarbayev and in October, to attend the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan, a meeting of EU-Central Asian foreign ministers and 15th meeting of the Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation Council.
February 25-26, 2018, Brussels - working visit of Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov to the 16th meeting of the Kazakhstan-EU Cooperation Council. In the framework of the visit, he met with High Representative Mogherini, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium Didier Reynders.
November 22-23, 2018, Brussels – Foreign Minister Abdrakhmanov attended the 14th EU Central Asia Ministerial Conference. He met with the High Representative Mogherini and the Secretary General of the Energy Charter Urban Rusnak.