Georgia has shown "the biggest advances” towards European integration of all six Eastern Partnership (EaP) countries, notes the latest report that charts the EU integration progress of EaP countries.
Despite Georgia facing ongoing pressure from Russia, the country had made a marked improvement in a number of areas, and the country "continued to have the best business climate in the region”, stated the European Integration Index for Eastern Partnership Countries 2014 report, released last week.
Georgia was the second best performer overall [behind Moldova], and the country that showed the biggest advances in the 2014 Index.”
The report measured each country in three dimensions – Linkage, Approximation and Management. Using several measurement tools, the Index scored each country based on the progress it had made and the current situation in each country.
"As in 2013, Georgia improved its scores in all three dimensions. Georgia remained third in Linkage after Moldova and Ukraine. In this dimension, its Trade and Economic Integration with the EU remained weak – on the same level as Azerbaijan,” stated the Index.
"Georgia climbed to share first place with Moldova in Approximation, registering the highest improvement among all six countries in Deep and Sustainable Democracy, with particularly marked improvement in elections and human rights.
"Moreover, it continued to have the best business climate in the region and performed best in meeting the DCFTA requirements. Georgia leaped ahead of Moldova to become the leading performer in Management of European Integration. This resulted not only from the 17 signing of the Association Agreement, but also the development of a communications strategy for EU integration and university support for EU research.”
The Index, produced by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum with partner organisations, revealed the six EaP countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) were on different paths towards European integration. By analysing the recent history of each country and the external pressures facing each nation (particularly Russia’s "destabilising” influence), the Index attempted to explain the different paths each of the six EaP countries have chosen – from pursuing EU integration or shifting their perspectives towards accession to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU).
"The 2014 Index shows a mixed set of results for the six Eastern partner countries in the period covered (January 2013 - June 2014),” stated the report.
On the one hand, Moldova and to an even greater degree Georgia continued steady progress in integration with the EU. On the other hand, Armenia and Ukraine experienced a stop-and-start trajectory, and a range of internal and external challenges.
"Ukraine, alongside Georgia and Moldova, proceeded to sign and ratify an Association Agreement with the EU, while Armenia instead abandoned the agreement and prepared to join the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.”
Based on each country’s ambition and current situation, the Index offered recommendations specific for each nation. It noted 2014 was a challenging year that was a "turning point for some, insecurity for all”, particularly in light of Russia’s "destabilising” actions.
In Georgia’s case, the biggest challenge facing the nation in 2015 surrounded its goal to have visa free travel with the EU – something Moldova achieved in late 2014 – and whether the EU Council would approve this following completion of the second phase of the Visa Liberalisation Action Plan.
You can find the full report here.