Chairman visits Kazakhstan
On October 29 a delegation of members of the European Parliament (MEPs) arrived in Astana for the 11th meeting of the EU-Kazakhstan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee (PCC). The EU delegation was led by Italian MEP Paolo Bartolozzi, Chairman of the EU-Kazakhstan PCC, while the Kazakh delegation of parliamentarians was headed by Mr Sergey Diachenko, Deputy Chairman of the Majilis.
During their visit to Kazakhstan, the MEPs were received by Deputy Prime Minister Yerbol Orynbayev, Minister of Foreign Affairs Erlan Idrissov and Minister for Environment Protection Nurlan Kapparov. The delegation also met with the Speaker of the Majilis Nurlan Nigmatulin and Speaker of the Kazakh Senate Kairat Mami.
The PCC is a regular forum for EU and Kazakhstani parliamentarians to discuss cooperation in the different areas covered by the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) between the EU and Kazakhstan. The PCA, which became effective in July 1999, is the principal framework for the relationship between the EU and Kazakhstan.
A key role of the Parliamentary Cooperation Committee is to review the ongoing implementation of the PCA. The Committee has the right to request information from the Cooperation Council which supervises the Agreement and also has the power to make recommendations to the Council.
The EU and Kazakhstan are currently negotiating a new, enhanced partnership agreement that is expected to replace the current PCA. As part of this process, the European Parliament is working on a resolution containing recommendations to the EU’s External Action Service, Commission and Council. The resolution is scheduled for a vote on November 22.
At this week’s meeting, current and future cooperation between Kazakhstan and the EU was the overall theme of the discussion, which included how to expand the legal basis for cooperation, enhance interparliamentary contacts, simplify visa regulations and develop regional cooperation.
On the subject of expanding the legal basis for cooperation, Mr Idrissov called for the finalizing of the new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Kazakhstan and the EU, which will facilitate a deeper level of dialogue and strengthen long-term prospects for the relationship, he said.
Mr Idrissov stressed that regional cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan is of the utmost importance in tackling terrorism, extremism and drug trafficking, as well as ensuring efficient use of energy and water resources and neutralizing the negative impact of the situation in Afghanistan on Central Asian states.
On simplifying visa regulations, Mr Idrissov said that freedom of movement is an element of Kazakhstan’s enhanced partnership with EU countries.
Mr Idrissov highlighted that the European Union is the largest trade and investment partner for Kazakhstan, accounting for half (49.7 %) of all foreign trade and a third of Kazakhstan’s foreign capital.
In 2011 the volume of trade between Kazakhstan and the EU increased to over USD 50 billion, from USD 38 billion in 2010. Growth has continued into 2012, with the trade figure for the first half of the year reaching USD 27.3 billion. Since 1993 a total of over USD 70 billion of investments have come to Kazakhstan from EU countries; the leading sources of investment are France, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.