DCAS (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan)

The European Parliament's first delegation to concentrate on Central Asia was its delegation for relations with the republics of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). This delegation established a working group for Central Asia in 1993.

The next year, the Parliament constituted a separate delegation for relations with Central Asia and Mongolia. This was the first "DCAS" delegation.

Closer relationships

The inauguration of a dedicated delegation to the region coincided with the EU's acknowledgment of the growing strategic importance of Central Asia.

Talks were launched on series of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements with all six countries covered by the delegation.
The agreements with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan came into force in July 1999, and the agreement with Tajikistan became effective in January 2010. A Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Mongolia is also currently being ratified.

Although negotiations on the agreement with Turkmenistan advanced, the European Parliament withheld its consent to the pact for a number of years, mostly due to reservations about the human rights situation in the country. A draft parliamentary report has since recommended the agreement be pursued.

Parliamentary Cooperation Committees

All the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements established forums for parliamentary contacts:

"A Parliamentary Cooperation Committee is hereby established. It shall be a forum for Members of the [partner's] Parliament and the European Parliament to meet and exchange views".

These committees convene once a year. The DCAS delegation meets a delegation sent by the partner's parliament to discuss issues relevant to the bilateral relationship and of mutual interest, such as human rights, environmental issues, security and the fight against terrorism, rural development, dialogue with civil society and education programmes.

Another important function of these committees is to review the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements. The committees may request information from the "Cooperation Council" that supervises the Agreement. The committees can also make recommendations to the Council.

With the inauguration of these committees, the full name of the delegation was changed. While still abbreviated as DCAS, the body was re-baptised the "Delegation to the EU-Kazakhstan, EU-Kyrgyzstan, EU-Uzbekistan and EU-Tajikistan Parliamentary Cooperation Committees and for relations with Turkmenistan and Mongolia".

Frequent encounters

Parliamentary Cooperation Committees have been held particularly frequently with delegations from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan: each of these committees has met about a dozen times since they were first formed.

Fewer committee sessions have been held with Tajikistan, with the most recent session - the fifth - taking place in December 2016.

While the Cooperation Committees encourage regular encounters, close relations may also be achieved through more informal "inter-parliamentary meetings". This has been the case for Mongolia: the DCAS delegation has met with Mongolian counterparts nearly as often as with Kazakh, Kyrgyz or Uzbek delegations.

On the other hand, only a handful of inter-parliamentary meetings have been convened with Turkmenistan since the DCAS delegation was formed. Members of the delegation and other colleagues in the Parliament today hope that establishing "more regular and structured parliamentary dialogue and scrutiny of the implementation of the agreement" would be a positive outcome of an EU-Turkmenistan Partnership and Cooperation Agreement.

Delegation work

In addition to its inter-parliamentary work, the DCAS delegation convenes regularly on its own in Brussels or Strasbourg to discuss administrative issues and matters of substance.

On average, the delegation has met once a month during the Parliament's current, eighth legislature (2009-2014), as well as during the previous, seventh term (2004-2009).