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EU report: Georgia making clear progress on reform agenda

The European Commission has hailed Georgia’s strong commitment to political association to and economic integration with the EU, and substantial progress in delivering on its association agreement commitments.

In its latest Association Implementation Report, the commission 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 March 5. The report 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 European Union and Georgia have excellent relations that we further intensified over the past year,” said the European Commission’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini. “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.”

This new 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 February last year. Overall, association agreement commitments, including the 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 fourth wave 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. In the past reporting period, Georgian authorities also continued their efforts to tackle the issues regarding irregular migration.

The report underlines the benefits for Georgian citizens of the country’s economic integration with the EU though the implementation of its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area commitments. With the progressive approximation of technical regulations and standards with those of the EU, Georgia has been increasingly able to strengthen its participation in international value chains. Regarding external trade, the EU continued to be the most important partner of Georgia, with a 27 per cent share in the country’s overall trade in 2017. Preliminary data for 2018 suggests a continuation of this trend. The opening of the EU market to new animal-origin products from Georgia was an important milestone in this regard.