2023 Communication on EU Enlargement Policy issued by the European Commission recommends granting EU candidacy status to Georgia provided it implements a number of reforms.
The report says that “the Commission welcomes the reform efforts undertaken by Georgia in line with the country’s Constitution which envisages its integration into the EU as a priority for the country.“
It also notes that the majority of Georgian citizens support the EU accession process, noting that “political de-polarization and more positive engagement by the ruling party with opposition parties and civil society are needed to build consensus on matters of national interest.”
The report says that “Georgia needs to step up its actions to counter disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference against the EU’s values and to improve its alignment rate with the EU common foreign and security policy.”
The report also notes that “in the upcoming period, elections will be organized in North
Macedonia, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. Further measures are required to prevent and address any attempts of interference by third states and non-state actors.”
The report states that in the light of the results achieved since June 2022, within the framework of the twelve priorities and beyond, the Commission recommends that the Council grants Georgia the status of a candidate country on the understanding that the following steps are taken:
- Fight disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference against the EU and its values.
- Improve Georgia’s alignment with the EU common foreign and security policy.
- Further address the issue of political polarization, including through more inclusive legislative work with opposition parties in Parliament, notably on legislation related to Georgia’s European integration.
- Ensure a free, fair and competitive electoral process, notably in 2024, and fully address OSCE/ODIHR recommendations. Finalize electoral reforms, including ensuring adequate representation of the electorate, well in advance of election day.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 26 related to these bodies, in an inclusive process. Establish a strong track record in investigating -corruption and organized crime cases.
- Improve the current action plan to implement a multi-sectorial, systemic approach to de-oligarchization, in line with Venice Commission recommendations and following a transparent and inclusive process involving opposition parties and civil society.
- 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 organizers 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.
The European Commission report addresses the track record of implementation of 12 priorities specified in the European Commission Opinion of June 2022:
- Georgia has adopted legislative acts and policy actions on gender equality and on fighting violence against women, on taking into account European Court of Human Rights judgments in Court deliberations and on organized crime.”
- Commission notes that Georgia has appointed a new Public Defender and that “certain procedural steps have been taken in Parliament to increase scrutiny by the opposition.”
- The report states that building a strong cross-party political consensus would contribute to addressing polarization and accelerate Georgia’s European path.
- Amendments to legislation and to parliamentary rules of procedure were adopted, in relation to the functioning and accountability of state institutions and the electoral framework.
- Judicial reform has included steps on accessibility to court decisions, reasoning for judicial appointments, disciplinary measures for judges and the selection of Supreme Court nominees but a holistic reform of the High Council of Justice is still needed.
- Georgia has shared this legislation and several other core legal acts on the Election Code, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Special Investigation Services, Personal Data Protection Service as well as its action plan for de-oligarchization with the Venice Commission for opinion.
- In addition, notes the report, it is important to establish a system of extraordinary integrity checks, with the involvement of international experts, for all leading positions in the judiciary, and to establish a system of effective assets declarations.
- An action plan for de-oligarchization, following a systemic approach, was adopted and the “personalized” approach was withdrawn.
- An Anti-corruption Bureau was set up. Georgia increased international cooperation in the fight against organized crime.
- On media pluralism, an opposition media director was released from prison following a Presidential pardon, and Parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Broadcasting to align with EU legislation.
- A strategy on the protection of human rights was adopted and an action plan elaborated.
- A memorandum of cooperation between Parliament and some civil society representatives was concluded to frame CSO involvement in policy-making processes.
- 08/11/2023 – EU Ambassador: This is a big recognition from the EU, however Important Work Remains to be Done
- 08/11/2023 – European Commission Recommends EU Candidacy for Georgia