EU officials welcome Association Agreement with Georgia

The EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini (R) commented on the agreement's new status earlier today. Photo from the Office of the Minister of Foreign Relations of Georgia., 01 Jul 2016 - 17:46, Tbilisi,Georgia

Top leaders from the European Union (EU) are welcoming the official entering into force of the long-awaited Association Agreement (AA) between Georgia and the European body.

The agreement, involving closer cooperation between the two sides in business, trade, energy and other sectors, was first signed by Georgia and the EU on June 27, 2014.

Today, the AA came into full force and all of its provisions concerning closer political and economic integration of the country with the EU are now in effect.

To mark the occasion, high ranking EU officials have spoken out in support of the deal, with the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini noting the closer ties between Georgia and the union provided by the AA deal.

With the full entry into force of our Association Agreement with Georgia, the EU-Georgia relationship becomes both broader and deeper, to the benefit of us all," she said.
The EU is looking forward to further strengthening its cooperation with a country that is still working on crucial reforms in areas such as the rule of law, the accountability rules for public decision-makers and transparency," Mogherini said today.

The EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn (R) also welcomed the new status of the agreement. Photo from Johannes Hahn/Twitter.

The new full status of the AA was also welcomed by the EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.

Georgian citizens will increasingly be able to reap the benefits of closer association with the EU as a result of our Association Agreement. Better business opportunities for Georgian small and medium-sized enterprises and improved safety of locally-grown agricultural products and enhanced energy efficiency are just a few areas where we already saw promising signs during the provisional application of the Agreement, which can now progress even further."
 Let me encourage Georgia to make full use of the substantial assistance - around €100 million per year - that the EU is providing to support the country's reform agenda," said Hahn.

Having signed up an AA with the EU, Georgia has made commitments in the areas of democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, a market economy and sustainable development. Furthermore, the Agreement commits Georgia to an ambitious reform agenda in key areas such as security policy, trade, economic recovery and growth and governance, stated the European Commission today.

The Commission noted the AA would continue to encourage enhanced cooperation between the EU and Georgia in many areas including environmental protection, social development and protection, transport, consumer protection, education, youth and culture, industry, and energy.

Substantial parts of Georgia’s AA have been provisionally applied since September 1, 2014. Since then the world has witnessed "significant and concrete achievements" said the Commission.

Georgian exports to the European Union increased by 16 percent in 2015 and, as a direct result of the DCFTA, new Georgian exports to the EU are materialising. Georgian kiwis, blueberries, nuts, garlic and wine are already exported to the EU. Copper and petroleum oils have also seen sizeable increases of exports to the EU. Furthermore, Georgia has adopted European standards in areas like health, safety and environmental protection. An Association Agenda which outlines the short- and medium-term reform priorities for the period 2017-2020 is currently under preparation," stated the European Commission today.

Other reaction to the agreement’s new status was also offered by other international officials working in Georgia; head of the European Union Delegation to Georgia Janos Herman said the AA was a "cornerstone" of the EU’s relations with Georgia.