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EU’s annual report on Georgian implementation of Association Process

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, February 10
The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy have published an annual report on Georgia's implementation of the Association Agreement by 2020, which outlines the reforms implemented in the country in a number of areas.

The report was published before the next meeting of the EU-Georgia Association Council, which will be held on March 16, and outlines the implementation of the reforms envisaged in the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia over the past year.

The document concludes that despite the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, Georgia has been adamantly pursuing its chosen European path. The report notes that the country has successfully continued to fulfill its obligations under the Association Agreement, including approximation with EU law and the introduction of European human rights standards.

The report highlights the government's peace initiative A Step Towards a Better Future, which has been highly praised and supported by the European Union. The report positively assesses the country's improved statistics on accession to EU foreign and security policy statements, indicating a coincidence of positions on foreign policy issues.

The document also details the country's parliamentary elections in the autumn of 2020, which, according to international observers, took place in a competitive environment where fundamental freedoms were generally protected. At the same time, the report positively assesses the changes in the electoral legislation, as a result of which the 2020 parliamentary elections were held under a new system and the country is firmly on the path to a transition to a fully proportional system by 2024. The report also confirms that the media environment in Georgia is pluralistic and competitive, despite its high polarization.

“Following the 2020 parliamentary elections, it is vital that all political parties act within an institutional framework to find common ground and a way out of the current political situation. This will enable the Parliament of Georgia to take decisive action for sustainable recovery after the coronavirus pandemic and to implement a broader reform agenda,” said EU High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission Joseph Borrell. He added that they are working with Georgian partners to agree on an updated association agenda to prepare for the coming years.

Work on compliance of Georgian legislation with the EU acquis and European standards has been effective. The report positively assesses the dynamics of approximation to EU norms and standards and highlights a number of legislative steps taken by the government, including welcoming substantive changes to the Labor Code and the Labor Inspection Service, Amendments to the Law on Competition, Public Procurement and Intellectual Property Law; Adoption of a new Forest Code and more.

At the same time, the report mentions there remain challenges related to electoral and judicial reforms. The situation after the 2020 parliamentary elections poses a need for further democratic consolidation, including in line with the OSCE / ODIHR final recommendations through inclusive dialogue in a timely manner for the October 2021 local elections. In the short term, an inclusive political agreement is necessary between the ruling and opposition parties in order to enable Parliament to work on a broad reform agenda. In a larger context, easing polarization in Georgian politics and media is a priority.

Significant challenges remain in ensuring the independence and accountability of the judiciary. It is essential that the selection process for judges of the Supreme Court fully complies with all the recommendations of the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, is carried out in a transparent manner and ensures that the process is conducted in a truly merit manner before further appointments are made.

The EU strongly supports Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within the country's internationally recognized borders, including through the efforts of the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the Crisis in Georgia, the Co-Chairs of the Geneva International Discussions and the EU Monitoring Mission.