In 1990, the Soviet Union started to break up, and its former constituent republics declared independence one by one. By the end of 1991, it ceased to exist leaving an enormous political, economic and social vacuum behind, which urged for assistance in all respects. Given the speed of these developments and the obvious need for support, still in 1991 the European Union started its Tacis- Programme. Tacis is an acronym for Technical Assistance to the CIS (or Commonwealth of Independent States). The name of the programme was spelt out in capital letters – TACIS– but the name was later changed to “Tacis” to account for its broader range of activities and inclusion of partner states. In 2007 Tacis was replaced by the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI).

In 2002 Tacis programme marked the tenth anniversary of cooperation with its partner countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

The Tacis programme was the main instrument through which the EU supports the implementation of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Later the relationship between the European Union and the partner countries developed into a much more formal and active political one. When Tacis was launched, technical assistance was a stand-alone activity, but later the programme became one part of complex and fast evolving relationship with all the partner countries, including Georgia. The programme aimed to respond to the priorities of the deeper political relationships, with the expectation that each project should contribute in some way towards meeting the objectives set out jointly.

The main element of Tacis support aimed at transferring know-how and expertise to organizations in the partner countries. In general, a partner company (“contractor”) from the European Union works with a partner organization (governmental or non-governmental) in the Tacis country on a specific project. Tacis activities in Georgia are a support to the overall EU strategy of strengthening the independence of this country and its progress to a market economy and fully developed democracy.

Below is a list of selected Tacis projects through which Tacis has contributed to the development of civil society and market economy in Georgia: training of the newly appointed judges, structural reforms in the energy sector, institutional building of Parliament, training of civil servants, small and medium business development in Tbilisi and Kutaisi, staff training at Georgian Customs, implementation of new accounting standards in commercial banks, tourism strategy development, assistance to GIOC (Georgian International Oil Corporation), maritime safety in ports, TACECA bridge construction, Poti-Ilichevsk railway ferry link, supply of optical cable system for communication and signaling to the railways, development of trans-border cooperation, assistance to Chamber of Control, the rehabilitation of gas distribution networks, assistance to Department of Statistics, Tempus – development and restructuring of higher education, setting up of GEPLAC - Georgian-European Policy and Legal Advice Centre and REC Caucasus - Caucasus Regional Environmental Centre etc.

The main priorities for the implementation of the latest Tacis Programme for Georgia were : support for institutional, legal and administrative reform, support in addressing the social consequences of transition with emphasis on the healthcare sector, development of infrastructure networks.

In 1992-2006 the European Commission allocated in the framework of the Tacis programme €131m for hundreds of projects implemented in Georgia.

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