The EU’s annual report on Georgia’s progress in meeting EU values has praised the country’s commitment to implementing necessary reforms.
The third Association Implementation Report on Georgia, released yesterday, provides an update on Georgia’s execution of its obligations under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement over the last year; in anticipation of the EU-Georgia Association Council meeting to be held in March. The report recognises the advances made by Georgia in a number of areas which had previously been highlighted as problematic, including:
- Reforming the legislative and judiciary systems;
- Integrating economically into the EU through the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area agreements;
- Promoting free and democratic elections; and
- Adapting its technical and regulatory standards to match those set by the EU.
The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said: “The European Union and Georgia have excellent relations that we further intensified over the past year. 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.”
While the report noted that more work still needed to be done in certain areas – Georgia’s presidential election in October 2018 came in for particular criticism due to “negative campaigning and harsh rhetoric” along with some questionable use of administrative resources – it emphasised that the EU, Georgia’s largest economic partner, welcomes the country’s ongoing reform. The EU continues to support the sovereignty of Georgia in the face of tensions with Russia.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said: “The implementation of the Association Agreement continues to bring positive results to Georgian and EU citizens. The implementation of the agreed actions of our High-level Meeting back in November will provide further momentum to our relationship. 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.”