The recent EU Association Implementation Report said although Georgia remained committed to the implementation of the Association Agreement and alignment of EU acquis, the country needed to address number of shortcomings of judiciary independence, democratic consolidation and high-level corruption.
Civil Georgia asked leading MEPs on EU-Georgia relations what the report findings hold for the ruling Georgian Dream party’s goal to apply for the EU membership by 2024.
MEP Viola von Cramon-Taubadel (Germany, The Greens/EFA):
“The Commission’s report resonated well with the reports also published by the European Parliament as well as numerous statements and comments my colleagues and I made during the last year.
The fact that Georgia remains one of the leaders of the Eastern Partnership should not discourage the Georgia government to do more in fulfilling taken obligations. Especially when some measurements like The Economist’s Democracy Index place Georgia way behind Moldova, Ukraine and even Armenia. Georgia has now worst ranking than it had a year ago.
Independence and transparency of the judiciary is indeed one of the most pressing issues. Last year, I discussed this topic with many of my colleagues from the Georgian parliament. The public’s low trust in the judiciary also indicates still existing problems in this area.
European institutions, be it the EU or the Venice Commission have offered technical means and more importantly, crucial expertise for improving the judiciary. These are not always used by our Georgian colleagues. Respect and high Standard of the Rule of Law is one of the key criteria for EU membership.
Georgia as any European State is free to submit the request for EU membership. Yet, this process is neither short nor easy. Besides the already mentioned Rule of Law, respect for Human Rights, and generally, high democratic standards are also determining criteria.
The current composition of the Georgian Parliament where the Georgian Dream has barely any opposition further damages quality of Georgian Democracy and complicates the Government’s 2024 goal. This is why solving the current political crisis is so urgent and crucial.
Lastly, in addition to the so-called normative criteria, a functioning market economy is also vital for the Membership. 2020 has been a very difficult year even for the strongest world economies; therefore, a recession in Georgia is not surprising. The EU tries to support its neighbors and close partners. The 183 million EUR financial assistance to Georgia last year was one of such attempts to mitigate the destructive effects of the Pandemic.
MEP Marina Kaljurand (Estonia, S&D):
“Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the report confirms that Georgia has remained and is firmly committed to the implementation of the AA including DCFTA.
True, some areas for further improvement remain, exacerbated by the political and media polarization and the current political stalemate. As well as where the consolidation of the rule of law and independence of the judiciary is concerned.
Importantly, the elections took place under a revised, improved electoral framework and as the report confirms, the autumn 2020 legislative elections were well organized and overall free and fair. We hope this framework can be further improved in view of future elections, especially to take into account pending ODIHR recommendations.
If Georgia continues on its path of reforms it will be in a position to apply formally for EU membership by 2024 as stated in the parliament’s resolution on foreign policy priorities adopted in December.
Goes without saying, the EU stands by Georgia and supports its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.”
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