Georgia’s Progress and Challenges in Implementing European Commission’s Recommendations
Georgia’s Commitment to European Commission’s Recommendations
The recent meeting between the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the European Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy, Olivér Várhelyi, in Brussels highlighted Georgia’s commitment to implementing the European Commission’s recommendations. These 12 recommendations were set during a visit by the High Representative, Josep Borrell, and are central to Georgia’s aspirations of closer integration with the European Union.
The Minister updated the Commissioner on the Georgian government’s strides towards meeting these recommendations, assuring the Commissioner of Georgia’s unwavering commitment to ongoing improvements in these areas. Commissioner Várhelyi responded favorably to the update, expressing gratitude for the Georgian government’s efforts, particularly the recent actions taken towards implementing the recommendations. He also pledged to maintain close coordination with the Georgian government.
The key takeaways from the meeting underscore Georgia’s determination to implement the European Commission’s recommendations and the European Commissioner’s readiness to continue working closely with the Georgian government. This suggests a positive relationship between Georgia and the European Commission, with ongoing collaboration anticipated in the future.
Progress and Challenges in Fulfilling the Recommendations
Despite encountering difficulties, Georgia has shown progress in fulfilling the European Commission’s 12 priorities to move towards candidate status. Georgia’s Reforms Associates (GRASS), a non-partisan non-governmental policy watchdog and multi-profile think tank, has studied the implementation state of the 12 priorities. Their findings suggest that while some priorities have been fulfilled or mostly fulfilled, others remain partial, and some have not been addressed yet.
Among the fulfilled priorities is the one regarding Georgian courts proactively considering European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) judgments in their deliberations. The recommendations regarding gender equality and violence against women and the fight against organised crime have been mostly fulfilled. However, the implementation of other priorities, such as institutional reforms to strengthen democratic oversight and electoral reforms, has been partially achieved with certain shortcomings remaining. Similarly, anti-corruption measures have been implemented, but their effectiveness is yet to be seen.
Major challenges remain in improving the media environment and reforming the judiciary. Despite the adoption of a law on Broadcasting to harmonise legislation with the EU acquis, civil society sees risks that certain articles might be used to put more pressure on critical media. Also, the judiciary reform remains controversial, with opposition and civil society criticising the proposed changes for addressing technical issues rather than core problems such as impartiality and independence of the judiciary.
Future Prospects and Recommendations
To a certain degree, progress has been made in multiple directions to fulfil the 12 priorities. However, fundamental issues remain unaddressed. Though some of the priorities are not yet fulfilled, there is enough time to show progress provided that relevant steps are taken. The fulfilment of the EU’s 12 priorities should be Tbilisi’s priority, and for that, political will is key.
Moreover, there is a need for the EU’s increased engagement in the process. This entails more regular updates to the Georgian government, opposition, and civil society groups, explaining how to hold the relevant actors accountable. The EU should also clarify what is needed to address these recommendations and emphasize that setbacks endanger candidacy status.
Furthermore, the Georgian government should show a strong commitment to implement the recommendations effectively and timely. It should also engage more with civil society organizations, opposition groups, and other stakeholders to ensure a more inclusive and democratic process. The success of fulfilling the recommendations will be a significant step in fulfilling the conditions of de-polarisation and involvement of civil society.
Georgia’s progress and challenges in implementing the European Commission’s recommendations highlight the complexities and intricacies of Georgia’s journey towards closer integration with the European Union. While significant strides have been made, there are still crucial areas that require attention and improvement. The relationship between Georgia and the European Commission remains positive, with both parties showing a strong commitment to ongoing collaboration. However, the ultimate success of this endeavour will depend on Georgia’s political will and the EU’s sustained engagement in the process.
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