The European Commission has released its third Association Implementation Report on Georgia which assesses Georgia's commitments under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement over the past year.
The report, released ahead of the EU-Georgia Association Council to be held in Brussels on 5 March, says that continued legislative reform, as well as the implementation of rules and standards by Georgia are crucial to allow its citizens to fully benefit from the close relationship between the EU and Georgia.
The European Union and Georgia have excellent relations that we further intensified over the past year. Since March 2017, more than 300,000 Georgian citizens have been able to travel visa-free to the Schengen area for short stays, and since 2009, more than 63,000 businesses and farmers have received loans," the EU High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini said.
She claimed that the European Union will continue to accompany and support the Georgian authorities in implementing important reforms under the Association Agenda," which provides priorities for our joint work until 2020 - reforms that are bringing more and more benefits to Georgian and EU's citizens alike"
The EU ambassador to Georgia tweeted.
Happy to share EU's 3rd Association Implementation Report on #Georgia – continued legislative reform and implementation of standards benefit Georgians. #EU committed to continued strong support to this process in 2019 #EU4Georgia https://t.co/h9V09m5xzN— Carl Hartzell (@CarlHartzellEU) January 31, 2019
The report also says that Georgia's Association Agreement commitments, including its Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, have been implemented in line with agreed timelines. It emphasises that over the past year, Georgia has made progress in strengthening its democratic institutions as part of the constitutional reform process and public administration reform.
Moreover, the report emphasises that the presidential elections were held in an 'overall competitive environment but also raised some shortcomings'.
On the other hand, the progress made in reforming the justice sector is assessed as 'modest’ in the report which says that challenges remain in terms of the results consolidation and making further progress.
Going forward it is important for the Georgian government to continue fostering an open dialogue with all political actors and civil society,” reads the report adding that In the past reporting period, Georgian authorities also continued their efforts to tackle the issues regarding irregular migration.
Closing event for key project supporting #AssociationAgreement implementation. EU-Georgia AA is foundation & roadmap for our relations. EU committed to continue cooperation w/ @GovernmentGeo & @Geoparliament to realise high, common ambitions.https://t.co/nTBTwqr6GT #EU4Georgia pic.twitter.com/CJfpYzu3fM— Carl Hartzell (@CarlHartzellEU) February 1, 2019
The EU continued to be the most important partner of Georgia, with a 27% share in the country's overall trade in 2017 and according to the report, preliminary data for 2018 suggests a continuation of this trend.
The EU is Georgia's largest trade partner and we will cooperate to further develop Georgia's export potential,” the Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn said.
Furthermore, the European Union continues to firmly support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
The European Union's commitment to peaceful conflict-resolution remains as strong as ever, through the work of the EU Monitoring mission in Georgia and the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia."
The report praised the Georgian Parliament adopted a legislative package "A Step for a Better Future" to promote peace and opportunities for the people in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The report reads that Georgia continues to be an important partner of the EU in the area of security, the fight against terrorism and transnational organised crime.
Georgia also participates in the EU-led missions and operations, which contribute to increasing the resilience of countries worldwide and strengthening the EU's role as a global security provider,” reads the report.
The Association Agreement signed between Georgia and the EU on June 27, 2014 as well its inclusive Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) deal fully entered into force on July 1, 2016.