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European Commission gives Georgia certain recommendations about VLAP

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, May 11
The European Commission released its third report on the implementation of a visa liberalization action plan (VLAP) by Georgia on May 8.

The report says that there is significant progress in the country but there are still several items, which need to be fully implemented.

The Commission said fulfilling the actions required in the report would allow Georgia to complete its implementation of all the VLAP’s second-phase benchmarks.

The report assesses how Georgia is meeting benchmarks set under the VLAP in four blocks and the benchmarks are specified as “achieved”, “almost achieved” or “partially achieved”.

The report deemed benchmarks related to document security, integrated border management, fighting organized crime, protection of personal data, freedom of movement, issuance of travel and identity documents, and international legal cooperation in criminal matters as “achieved”.

Benchmarks in migration management, money laundering, cooperation between various law enforcement agencies, and citizens’ rights (including the protection of minorities) have been assessed as “almost achieved”.

Benchmarks in asylum, human trafficking, anti-corruption and combating the drugs trade are deemed as “partially achieved.”

The report calls on Georgia to fulfil the reform of the civil service with the adoption of a civil service law in line with international practice, setting the scope and standards of a professional and de-politicized civil service.

With regards to drugs, the report says that although Georgia made substantial progress in implementing the national anti-drug strategy, the drug policy is still based on punitive measures, rather than on rehabilitation ones.

Georgia and the EU launched the visa liberalization talks in June, 2012 and Visa Liberalization Action Plan (VLAP), a set of detailed requirements that a country should meet in order to be granted short-term visa-free regime in the Schengen area, was presented to Georgia in February, 2013.

On October 29, 2014 the European Commission announced that Georgia met first-phase requirements of its Visa Liberalization Action Plan, paving the way for the launch of the second phase.

The third report comes ahead of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga on May 21-22.

The European Commission said that it would report on Georgia’s further progress on implementation of the visa liberalization action plan by the end of 2015.