EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agr't to enter into force Mar 1
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM On 1 March, the European Union-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), now ratified by all the EU Member States and the European Parliament, will enter into force.
This represents an important milestone in more than 25 years of EU-Kazakhstan relations.
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, said: «Since Kazakhstan became the first country in Central Asia to sign an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with the European Union, the breadth and depth of our relationship has progressed immeasurably. The European Union is the country’s biggest trade and investment partner, while Kazakhstan is by far the EU’s largest trade partner in Central Asia. What is more, we have invested heavily in strengthening governance, supporting justice, social and economic reforms. We have also increased the number of Kazakh students coming to study and experience Europe through the Erasmus+ programme. With the Agreement now entering into force, we can fully reap its benefits – from joint climate action, to clean energy, sustainable modernisation, to increasing connectivity. We are turning the page and beginning an exciting new chapter.»
Since the Agreement was signed in December 2015, bilateral cooperation between Kazakhstan and the European Union has progressed steadily through many exchanges in Cooperation Committees, Cooperation Councils, Subcommittees and Dialogues. The EU has become Kazakhstan's first trading partner and first foreign investor, representing over half of total Foreign Direct Investment in Kazakhstan, the official website of the Delegation of the European Union to Kazakhstan reads.
At the 17th EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council, held in Brussels on 20 January 2020, the successful implementation of the Agreement in a number of areas was reviewed, including trade and customs, environment and climate change, energy as well as rule of law and judicial cooperation. It was an important opportunity to demonstrate the mutual commitment in further strengthening bilateral relations.
The entry into force of the Agreement has therefore been an important priority for the European Union and Kazakhstan. From 1 March, cooperation will be strengthened in areas which to date were not subject to the provisional application of the Agreement.
The European Union is confident that the full implementation of the Agreement will provide a strong framework for further progress on political reforms, including on freedom of expression and media, freedom of association and peaceful assembly. It will also allow for further cooperation in the field of small and medium-sized enterprises, employment, labour relations, energy, research and innovation, industry, environment and climate change, health, education and training, public services, civil society, tourism, people-to-people contact and culture.
At the beginning of this new decade, the European Union stands ready and looks forward to working even more closely with Kazakhstan on the full and effective implementation of the Agreement in mutual interest and to the benefit of our citizens and societies.