On 29 November, the 3rd Regional Steering Group (RSG) meeting was held in Astana. Representatives from the border and customs services, foreign ministries, and migration management agencies of each Central Asian (CA) country (as project beneficiaries) together with BOMCA Consortium partners and representatives from the Delegations of the European Union in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan jointly assessed the Programme’s achievements and challenges to date, discussed the work plan for next year and spoke about country priorities with regard to possible BOMCA continuation beyond 2018.

During the meeting, delegates discussed their countries’ efforts on BOMCA implementation, assessed developments and progress, and exchanged experience about the progress achieved and challenges being faced in terms of the implementation of events. The Steering Group also determined the main directions and priorities for the first half of 2018.

To date, starting from June 2015, over 1,900 beneficiaries from five Central Asian countries have participated in 198 events with various different scopes – from national and regional workshops to technical assistance missions, on-the-job trainings and study visits to EU Member States and Central Asian countries. In the first half of 2018, the 9th phase of BOMCA intends to conduct up to 30 activities.

One of the important points raised during the meetings was the intention of the European Commission to extend the current BOMCA 9 phase until the end of December 2019. For this, the EU is allocating additional funding of ca. EUR 1.6 m. While official consultations on the CA countries’ support of the extension take place at the governmental level, during the RSG meeting the beneficiaries expressed their priorities to be taken into consideration concerning the extension period. These proposals will be taken in account in the designing of activities for the extension period and be further shared with the national partners in spring 2018.