EU Council President vows support for Georgia’s EU integration, says “much dependent” on meeting conditions

Charles Michel has welcomed the most recent legal efforts by the Georgian authorities to meet the EU candidacy priorities. Photo: Government of Georgia press office, 29 Jun 2023 - 17:10, Tbilisi,Georgia

Charles Michel, the European Council President, on Thursday pledged his body’s support for Georgia’s European integration efforts, saying “much” in the process would be dependent on the country’s implementation of the 12-point conditions outlined by the bloc last year for granting its membership candidate status to Georgia. 

In his comments for domestic Imedi TV channel, the EU official welcomed the most recent legal efforts by the Georgian authorities to meet the priorities, and said the European Commission was expected to present its conclusions on the Government’s efforts to meet the conditions in the autumn. 

He added the European Council would decide on the status in December, based on the Commission’s recommendations. 

In his comments last week, Michel said a “positive momentum to reform" had been created by last year's decision by his body to grant Georgia a European perspective, and noted he saw Georgia in the bloc in the future. 

Michel also welcomed Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili’s “reconfirmation” earlier this month that his Government would not seek to adopt the bill on transparency of foreign influence, retracted in March following public protests and criticism by domestic opposition, non-governmental organisations and Western partners of the Government. 

The European official also welcomed the Georgian Parliament’s decision on June 21 not to pass the deoligarchisation bill in the third reading as a positive step, after the draft was described as having involved "personal", instead of "systemic", approach by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe. 

Michel also responded to the pardoning of the head of the domestic Mtavari Arkhi channel by the Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili on June 22 by saying the decision was an “essential” step towards depolarisation of the political environment in Georgia. 

The interim, oral report by the European Commission on June 22 said Georgia had “fully met” three of the conditions, “partially met” seven, showed “limited progress” on the deoligarchisation and “no progress” on media pluralism. 

Responding to the report the next day, Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said it had “confirmed the efforts” by domestic authorities to meet the recommendations, noting it had not reflected the Georgian Parliament’s most recent work on the conditions. He also pledged an “intensive communication” with the bloc for the European Commission’s final assessment to “fully reflect” the efforts by the country’s authorities to obtain the status.