The European Commission said in its recent report on the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation requirements that Georgia continues to fulfil the benchmarks.
The Commission notes in its introduction that this report focuses on specific areas where further action is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the progress achieved; therefore, benchmarks 'with a stable implementation record are not covered'.
The report released earlier today notes that Georgia has been the main country of origin of asylum applicants among Eastern Partnership countries ‘for the third year in a row’.
EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzell has tweeted:
Annual EU Commission Brussels report on visa-free implementation is out.— Carl Hartzell (@CarlHartzellEU) July 10, 2020
Georgia continues to meet visa requirements, but further efforts needed on pre-departure checks & operational cooperation to fight illegal migration & organised crime.
The number of asylum applications lodged by Georgian nationals in the Schengen+ area has increased by 9%, with 21,570 applications lodged in 2019 compared to 19,730 applications lodged in 2018.
Meanwhile, the asylum recognition rate decreased to 4.1% in 2019 (compared to 4.7% in 2018), while in the first quarter of 2020, a total of 3,795 asylum applications were reported, which is 42% less than in the same period last year.
In 2018 and 2019, the number of refusals of entry for Georgian nationals in the Schengen increased by 17% (from 3,805 to 4,435), while the number of those found to be illegally staying increased by 26% (from 9,400 to 11,845).
As regards cooperation on readmission, the report says, the return rate has decreased to 52% in 2019(compared to 65% in 2018), with 8,520 Georgian nationals effectively returned.
Despite the decrease in the return rate, good cooperation on readmission continued and should be maintained. While concrete measures have been put in place to address irregular migration and crime related challenges, further immediate action is needed to address these challenges, in particular the increasing numbers of unfounded asylum applications”, the report reads.
The EU Commission also names several areas that need to be further addressed, including to 'strengthen operational cooperation to achieve and maintain a swift decrease' in the number of unfounded asylum applications lodged by Georgian nationals in the Schengen+ area.
Apart from Georgia, the Commission has reported on the assessment of the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation requirements by Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia, as well as Moldova and Ukraine.