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dc.contributor.authorKizekova, Alica

This paper addresses the EU’s engagements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan in Central Asia in the energy sector in the era of geopolitical instability and the heightened focus on energy security, diversification of energy supply, and energy transition. The states in Central Asia could play an important role in the EU’s quest to fulfill its energy needs. Furthermore, some actors voice positive pro-climate rhetoric, claiming ambitious renewable energy targets that could be seen as a potential bridge for a more substantive cooperation with the EU. However, despite the potential and already signed joint agreements, the EU has not taken full advantage of the regional resource potential. Why does this still feel like an uncompleted mission? Are there promising prospects for overcoming the current obstacles and achieving the energy transition goals?

First, the EU lacks a rigorous diplomatic profile in the region and has been more focused on issues arising in its near neighborhood or elsewhere. Second, in Central Asia, there are trends that prevent this cooperation in energy transition from progress because there has been a very slow or no phasing-out of fossil fuels. The key stakeholders in the energy sector wish to gain revenues from the energy trade in coal, gas, and oil from various actors. There are also multiple international actors who individually or within joint projects provide resources and assistance; as such, the local governments and organizations are not motivated to start the complex applications for EU funding, especially if they may be limited or shared with other countries in greater Central Asia. Moreover, the EU is facing competition from China and Russia, and increasingly from other actors such as India, Iran, Turkey, Japan, and the USA. These obstacles tend to make the Union and its individual member states tread more carefully when committing time and investments in the region.

Nevertheless, well-informed EU representatives and adjustments in approaches to the local environments could effectively address these barriers. Ultimately, both geographical spaces share the energy transition goals set out to increase the share of renewable energy sources by 2030 and ultimately by 2050. The EU has made commitments in its Strategy on Central Asia (2019) to help the region to transition towards a low-carbon economy, energy efficiency, and engagement in projects on renewable energy and to facilitate electricity interconnections. The Union declared Central Asia to be a “key region in resources” with a potential in hydroelectric, solar, and wind energy. Brussels additionally stated that it would use its EU4Energy energy program to help countries in Central Asia to fully tap into their energy potential and ensure energy security. Good planning, workable timelines, and consistent funding that also targets spheres that might be less attractive for competitors – or targets the competitors that are not fully or able to contribute, especially in times of geopolitical tensions – could move the EU-Central Asia energy cooperation forward and closer to achieving the energy transition goals. Such activities include and are not limited to joint projects in capacity-building in energy project management and finance, and work with smaller energy communities and vulnerable groups, as well as breaking the stereotypes in financing and more empowerment of women in the energy sector.

dc.titleThe EU's tightrope walk to energy cooperation with Central Asia: Are they heading towards an enhanced cooperation?
curtin.departmentSchool of Media, Creative Arts and Social Inquiry
curtin.accessStatusFulltext not available
curtin.facultyFaculty of Humanities
curtin.contributor.orcidKizekova, Alica [0000-0002-0311-5888]
curtin.contributor.scopusauthoridKizekova, Alica [56014042900]

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