The European Commission has released the 3rd Association Implementation Report on Georgia, which highlights that continued legislative reform and steady implementation of rules and standards in line with the Association Agreement are crucial to allow Georgian citizens to fully reap the benefits of this close relationship between the EU and Georgia.
The report sets out the state-of-play of Georgia’s implementation of its commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement over the past year, ahead of the EU-Georgia Association Council, to be held in Brussels on 5 March 2019.
The 3rd Report takes stock of Georgia’s implementation of the Association Agreement and in particular the Association Agenda since the last EU-Georgia Association Council of 5 February 2018. Overall, Association Agreement commitments, including as regards its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, have been implemented in line with agreed timelines.
“Over the past year, Georgia has made progress in strengthening its democratic institutions, in the framework of the constitutional reform process and public administration reform. The Presidential elections were held in an overall competitive environment but also raised some shortcomings. Modest progress was made in reforming the justice sector, but challenges remain to consolidate the results achieved and to make further progress in this area. In that regard, it is noteworthy that the 4thwave of legislative reform was initiated upon establishment of the Parliament-led platform for judiciary reforms. Going forward it is important for the Georgian government to continue fostering an open dialogue with all political actors and civil society,” the Commission reports.
The report also underlined that the European Union continues to firmly support Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
“The European Union’s commitment to peaceful conflict-resolution remains as strong as ever, through the work of the EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia,” the commission said, adding Georgia also continues to be an important partner of the EU in the area of security, the fight against terrorism and transnational organized crime.
“Georgia also participates in the EU-led missions and operations, which contribute to increasing the resilience of countries worldwide and strengthening the EU’s role as a global security provider,” the document reads.
High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini stated that the EU and Georgia have excellent relations that we further intensified over the past year, adding that since March 2017, more than 300,000 Georgian citizens have been able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area for short stays, and since 2009, more than 63,000 businesses and farmers have received loans.
“The European Union will continue to accompany and support the Georgian authorities in implementing important reforms under the Association Agenda, which provides priorities for our joint work until 2020 – reforms that are bringing more and more benefits to Georgian and EU’s citizens alike”, she said.
Moreover, the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, noted that the implementation of the Association Agreement continues to bring positive results to Georgian and EU citizens.
“The EU is Georgia’s largest trade partner and we will cooperate to further develop Georgia’s export potential. In September 2018, the first European School outside the EU was launched in Tbilisi, and Georgia is stepping up its participation in programmes such as Erasmus+, encouraging student and youth exchanges”, he added.
By Thea Morrison