Gov’t unveils action plan to meet conditions for opening accession talks with EU

Georgia obtained EU candidacy on December 14. Photo: Government press office, 26 Dec 2023 - 17:15, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Government of Georgia on Monday revealed an action plan designed to fulfil the conditions outlined by the European Commission in November, a prerequisite for initiating accession talks with the European Union.

In its November decision, the European Commission recommended that the European Council grant Georgia candidacy within the bloc, subject to nine conditions for progressing to the next stage of European integration.

The specified conditions and the accompanying timeframe in the Georgian Government's plan are as follows, on the heels of the Council's decision on December 14 to grant Georgia the requested status. 

  • Fight disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference against the EU and its values:

Activities to be implemented: Develop the Action Plan for the Communication Campaign of the Government of Georgia in order to promote the EU and its values. Implementation timeframe: On December 11, based on the Government’s decree, the 2024-2027 Communications Strategy of the Government was approved, with fighting disinformation as one of its components. In addition, the Foreign Ministry has defined measures to be taken by this institution with a view to introduce—in light of new realities and the European Commission’s recommendations—amendments to the Georgian Government’s Communications Strategy for Georgia’s EU Membership, also to ensure institutional capacity building, including reforming the Ministry’s Directorate-General of Information and Public Relations and empowering the Information Center on NATO and EU in terms of both financial and human resources, to carry out activities toward raising awareness of the fight against disinformation and of EU/European values, and to strengthen international cooperation, including that of the StratCom with the relevant agencies of the European External Action Service.

  • Improve Georgia’s alignment with the EU common foreign and security policy: 

Activities to be implemented: Improve alignment rates with the EU’s positions under the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Based on applicable practice, continue active cooperation with the relevant structures of the EU in order to prevent against Georgia’s territory being used for circumventing EU sanctions, including continuous regular reporting from the Finance Ministry of Georgia to the relevant agencies of the European Commission (FISMA, DG TAXUD), the US, and the UK, through the existing communication channels, concerning the compatibility of customs operations with sanctions against sanctioned and sensitive customs codes. Implementation timeframe In the course of 2023-2024. 

  • Further address the issue of political polarisation, including through more inclusive legislative work with opposition parties in Parliament, notably on legislation related to Georgia’s European integration. 

Activities to be implemented: Engaging all parliamentary political parties in working formats related to European integration and other fundamental reforms.Continuous cooperation with civil society (within the framework of the memorandum with the Georgian National Platform) on matters pertaining to the Georgia's EU Agenda. Implementation timeframe: Memorandum of Understanding designed to institutionalise and deepen their cooperation. The Parliament of Georgia and the Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held three joint conferences dedicated to the sectoral aspect of EU priorities and the EUGeorgia Association Agreement.

  • Ensure a free, fair and competitive electoral process, notably in 2024, and fully address OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. Finalise electoral reforms, including ensuring adequate representation of the electorate, well in advance of election day.  

Activities to be implemented: Invite a long-term OSCE/ODIHR observation mission to the 2024 elections. Create working formats for effective cooperation between the relevant agencies of the Government and observation organisations. Adopt amendments concerning party/election financing in the Election Code (prohibiting donations from legal entities to political parties, reducing the annual expenditure ceiling as percentage of GDP). implementation timeframe for each: February 2024, August-October 2024, December 15, 2023 On December 15, the parliament adopted at third reading amendments to the Law of Georgia on Political Associations of Citizens and the Election Code of Georgia, in line with recommendations from the European Commission and the Venice Commission.

  • Further improve the implementation of parliamentary oversight notably of the security services. Ensure institutional independence and impartiality of key institutions, notably the Election Administration, the National Bank, and the Communications Commission.

Activities to be implemented: NGOs to improve the practice of oversight, replenish the composition of the Parliament’s Trust Group. Implementation timeframe for each: in October and November 2023, adopted additional amendments to the Law on Broadcasting with a view to harmonizing with the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive. These amendments regulate matters pertaining to the appointment of members of the National Communications Commission and reflect criteria and procedures for the termination of their authorities. February 2024. 

  • Complete and implement a holistic and effective judicial reform, including a comprehensive reform of the High Council of Justice and the Prosecutor’s Office, fully implementing Venice Commission recommendations and following a transparent and inclusive process:

Activities to be implemented:  Create a working format for matters of judiciary and prosecutorial reforms, with participation from all parliamentary political parties and NGOs (implementation timeframe: January 2024).  Update the relevant legislative amendment (January 31, 2024). Adopt the relevant legislative amendment (March 7, 2024). 

  • Further address the effectiveness and ensure the institutional independence and impartiality of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Special Investigative Service and the Personal Data Protection Service. Address Venice Commission recommendations related to these bodies, in an inclusive process. Establish a strong track record in investigating - corruption and organized crime cases. 

Activities to be implemented: Hold meetings with all parliamentary parties and NGOs to discuss the annual reports of these institutions (implementation timeframe: May 2024). 

  • Improve the current action plan to implement a multi-sectorial, systemic approach to deoligarchisation, in line with Venice Commission recommendations and following a transparent and inclusive process involving opposition parties and civil society.

Activities to be implemented: Approve the deoligarchisation plan after consultations with parliamentary political parties and NGOs. (Note: On November 22, 2023, within the framework of the Memorandum of Cooperation, the Parliament presented and discussed the action plan at the 3 rd Joint Conference held together with the Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum) - implementation timeframe - November 27, 2023 Adopted. At the November 27 Government meeting, the deoligarchisation plan, upgraded based on the European Commission’s recommendations, was approved, and its implementation started.  Hold meetings with parliamentary political parties and NGOs in order to ensure the effective monitoring of the implementation of the deoligarchisation plan - 2024. 

  • Improve the protection of human rights including by implementing an ambitious human rights strategy and ensuring freedom of assembly and expression. Launch impartial, effective and timely investigations in cases of threats against safety of vulnerable groups, media professionals and civil society activists, and bring organisers and perpetrators of violence to justice. Consult and engage with civil society, allowing for their meaningful involvement in legislative and policymaking processes and ensure they can operate freely. 

Activities to be implemented: Human Rights Action Plant will be discussed. Approve the Draft 2024-2026 Speaker National Human Rights Action Plant after consultations with parliamentary political parties and NGOs (implementation timeframe: December 25, 2023 On December 25, the Action Plan was approved at the Government’s meeting. Based on a transparent and inclusive process, the plan reflects recommendations from the Parliament, municipalities, and NGOs).  Hold meetings with civil society organisations concerning ongoing investigations. Submit comprehensive information about investigations to the European Commission (2024). Hold regular meetings with NGOs in order to promote their engagement in law- and policymaking processes (2023-2024 The Parliament of Georgia and the Georgian National Platform of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum held three joint conferences dedicated to the sectoral aspect of EU priorities and the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. In addition, the Parliament is open to engaging NGOs in the legislative process. Cooperation with them will continue within the frameworks of their participation in both the Open Governance Permanent Parliamentary Council and parliamentary committees).