Georgia is making headway in implementing the Association Agenda, with a number of reforms, strengthening democracy and the rule of law as well as the economy, already being implemented.
The details are highlighted in a joint report, released today by the European External Action Service and the European Commission ahead of the EU-Georgia Association Council on 2 December 2016.
"The European Union and Georgia already have a strong relationship: we are like-minded partners, we share values and common commitments to our populations and on the international scene alike. It's been only 5 months since our Association Agreement fully entered into force last July, and today's report recognises the sustained work of the Georgian authorities. Still, some important legislation needs to be passed, and some additional measures taken. Implementing reforms is not always easy, and requires determination and leadership, but it is bringing countless new opportunities to our peoples”, said the High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini.
"We are already seeing the first results of the implementation of the Association Agreement”, said the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn. “Georgian exports to the EU have been increasing and additional opportunities have been created for our populations, for example students and scientists through Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. The implementation of the Association Agenda needs to be continued, in particular in reforming the judiciary, including of the prosecution service. We will continue supporting the authorities in their efforts to bring our populations still closer.”
The joint report assesses the state of play of Georgia's implementation of the Association Agenda since the 1st of January 2015. It focuses on key developments and reforms undertaken in line with the strategic priorities agreed between the EU and Georgia. According to the report, Georgia has implemented a number of reforms, strengthening democracy and the rule of law, as well as other key areas in the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which fully entered into force on 1 July 2016. Georgia's democratic institutions have been consolidated, and a comprehensive legislative framework for human rights and anti-discrimination has been adopted.
The report recalls that the full range of commitments under the Association Agreement will require further legislation and in parallel the steady implementation of existing rules and standards. According to the report, this is essential to guarantee that Georgian citizens will, over time, fully enjoy the benefits of the DCFTA and of the broader EU-Georgia relationship.
In the section dedicated to economic development, the report underlines the benefits brought to the EU and Georgia since the start of the provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) in September 2014.The EU now accounts for a quarter of Georgia's overall trade whilst the DCFTA has led to the removal of customs tariffs and quotas and has also underpinned the process of bringing Georgia's trade-related regulations closer to the standards of the EU.
The report also notes that Georgia successfully met all benchmarks under the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan, as evidenced by the European Commission's proposal to the Council and the European Parliament to lift visa obligations for Georgian citizens in March 2016. The EU-Georgia Visa Liberalisation Dialogue proved to be an important and particularly effective tool for advancing far-reaching reforms.
The European Union continues to fully support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The EU actively supports conflict resolution efforts through the work of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the EU Monitoring Mission. Georgia provides personnel to EU military and civilian operations, strengthening the EU's role as a global security provider and increasing the resilience of countries worldwide.