TASHKENT (TCA) — On October 19, the third meeting of the Subcommittee between Uzbekistan and the European Union (EU) for Development Cooperation was held via video-conference. The event was organized by the Delegation of the European Union to Uzbekistan and the Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade of Uzbekistan.
The European side was co-chaired by Sarah Rinaldi, the Head of Unit for Middle East/Gulf, Central Asia and South Asia, Directorate-General for Development of Cooperation of the European Commission, with the participation of Boris Iarochevitch, Head of Central Asia Division at European External Action Service.
The co-chairman of the meeting of the Subcommittee from Uzbekistan’s side was Shukhrat Vafayev, Deputy Minister of Investments and Foreign Trade. The main goal of the third Subcommittee was to identify and discuss lessons learnt from the implementation of the Multi-annual Indicative Program for 2014-2020 and priorities of the Government of Uzbekistan for current and medium-term reforms. Ms Rinaldi also informed on the EU's preparatory work for the next programming cycle 2021-2027 and invited the national stakeholders to become active partners in the process of setting up the next cooperation program.
Among participants were several line ministries that informed on their key challenges and potential priority cooperation areas; these were Ministries of Agriculture, Employment and Labour Relations, Innovative Development, Higher and Secondary Special Education, and Water Resources Management, and the State Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection. Additionally, the EU Member States joined the meeting in the spirit of Team Europe.
Today the European Union implements its activities in Uzbekistan within the framework of the Multi-annual Indicative Program for 2014-2020 with the total value of EUR 168 million and the main development directions in agriculture and rural development. For the next programming cycle, the participants proposed to expand the scope of cooperation and cover such areas as digital economy, education, eco-innovative development of the Aral Sea region and investment climate.
During the meeting, Sarah Rinaldi highlighted, "The programming of the post-2020 EU development cooperation is taking place under challenging circumstances: pre-existing problems, such as the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The post-COVID-19 recovery rests on the need to ensure a sustainable, socially just, resilient and climate-neutral economy. Along with the overarching policy priorities of the European Commission, the Sustainable Development Goals will continue to be the underlying purpose of EU development cooperation. A key feature of the new program will be Team Europe Initiatives. These are flagship programs in which the EU and the Member States combine their efforts in order to create enhanced programs that can deliver greater development impact."
The EU has been active in Uzbekistan since 1996. The EU provides approximately EUR 24 million annually in development assistance.