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European Neighbourhood Policy - GEORGIA

Commission Européenne - MEMO/09/184   23/04/2009

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MEMO/09/184

Brussels, 23 April 2009

European Neighbourhood Policy - GEORGIA

External Relations and Neighbourhood Policy Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, welcomed Georgia’s efforts and achievements reached in 2008 and encouraged further steps for injecting a new momentum in political and economic reforms and for accelerating Georgia’s economic integration into the EU under the ENP. “I welcome that Georgia was able to advance in several areas on the Action Plan in spite of the difficult challenges which have characterized 2008.The dramatic events of August 2008 and the prompt EU response have highlighted the importance and relevance of the ENP as a solid foundation for strengthening EU-Georgia ties.”

EU–Georgia relations: basic facts

The EU-Georgia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) entered into force in 1999. An Action Plan was adopted in November 2006, with the aim of further strengthening the economic integration of Georgia with the EU.

Major developments in 2008 and overall assessment

Implementation of the ENP Action Plan in Georgia was seriously affected by exceptional events. In the course of 2008, Russia took a number of steps aimed at strengthening its relations with Georgia's separatist regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia, notably building up its military presence. A sequence of military incidents and provocations culminated in August 2008 in the outbreak of an armed conflict with Russia over the control of South Ossetia, causing hundreds of casualties and the displacement of about 192,000 people and serious environmental damage, leaving 7,000 Russian troops on Georgian territory. The ensuing recognition by Russia of the self-declared independence of the two separatist entities violated Georgia’s sovereignty and complicated peaceful and sustainable settlement of the conflicts. A ceasefire agreement was concluded with EU support, and the European Council expressed its firm support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. At the same time, two rounds of contested early elections have highlighted the need to inject new momentum into democratic reforms.

In spite of this difficult security and political context, Georgia advanced in the implementation of the ENP Action Plan.

Progress was achieved in the fight against corruption: Georgia ratified the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption, which entered into force in May 2008; and acceded to the UN Convention on Corruption in November 2008. An Anti-Corruption Interagency Coordinating Council was established under the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.

The customs code was simplified and clarified to tackle corruption in the areas of valuation, post-clearance audit and warehouse approvals. A new law establishing a Chamber of Control (Court of Auditors) on the basis of EU and international standards was adopted in December 2008.

Reforms in the rule of law area progressed, especially in facilitating access to justice, improving detention conditions (several prisons were demolished, reconstructed or refurbished in the course of 2008 contributing to the improvement of conditions for inmates) and efforts to combat torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

A new subcommittee on justice, liberty and security matters was established with Georgia. In June 2008, the European Council invited the Commission to open a dialogue with Georgia with a view to launching a Mobility Partnership. Visa dialogue was strengthened, with a view to launching EU-Georgia negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements on the basis of the respective negotiating mandates adopted by the Council in November 2008.

Georgia increased political cooperation with the EU which was underpinned by its alignment with over 75% of the CFSP declarations to which Georgia was invited to join.

A new Ministry for Regional Development Issues was established in January 2008, which is assigned to ensure better coordination of governmental activities with regard to implementation of local and regional governance reforms.

In the area of transport the rehabilitation of the Yerevan-Tbilisi railway line was launched in Tbilisi and in Yerevan in mid-October 2008.

Georgia continued to implement its energy policy, inter alia by rehabilitating and expanding electricity production capacity including the large Enguri hydro power plant. It confirmed its role as a key transit country for the transport of Caspian energy resources including to EU markets. Georgia continued to participate in the “Baku Initiative” for EU-Black Sea/Caspian energy cooperation and actively participated in the completed EC study regarding the feasibility of a Trans-Caspian/Black Sea energy corridor. In April 2008 the Government of Georgia adopted the state programme for renewable energy.

Due to the August 2008 war and the subsequent impact of the global financial and economic the economic growth slowed down in 2008 to 2.1% GDP. The EU is Georgia’s main trading partner (around 1/3 of Georgia's overall external trade). A mission of European Commission’s experts visited Georgia in October 2008 in order to assess the Georgia’s preparedness for negotiations on deep and comprehensive free trade agreement. The agreement on a joint statement between the Government, the Trade Unions and the International Labour Organisation on the promotion of social dialogue enabled Georgia to continue benefiting from the EC special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance (GSP+) for 2009-2011. The effective implementation of this joint statement has to be ensured.

A mission of European Commission’s experts visited Georgia in October 2008 in order to assess the Georgia’s preparedness for negotiations on a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement.

Reform of higher education progressed with a focus on alignment to European standards - the establishment of an institute for European Studies with EC support provides a model for the application of Bologna standards. Georgian universities and higher education institutions participated actively in Tempus programme, Georgian students benefited from scholarships under Erasmus Mundus and a special pilot project for the academic year 2008-9.

How the EU supported Georgia following August 2008 conflict

EU played a crucial role in agreeing the ceasefire (six-point plan) under the auspices of the EU French Presidency on 12 August, five days after the outbreak of armed hostilities between the Russian Federation and Georgia over control of South Ossetia. A more detailed implementation agreement was concluded on 8 September 2008 following the visit of Presidents Barroso and Sarkozy to Tbilisi and Moscow.

The EU has firmly expressed its support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and continued to condemn in the strongest terms the decision of Russia to maintain a military and diplomatic presence in their territories.

Another substantial EU contribution for stability was the rapid deployment of an EU civilian monitoring mission (EUMM) with a mandate for monitoring the effective implementation of the ceasefire agreement in all the territory of Georgia, including the separatist regions.

The Community Civil Protection Mechanism was mobilised in the aftermath of August 2008 conflict and facilitated the arrival and use of the civil protection assistance provided by the EU Member States.

The EU provided substantial financial and practical post-conflict support to Georgia. The European Commission provided €9 million of immediate humanitarian aid for the internally displaced persons and organised an international donors' conference with the World Bank in Brussels on 22 October 2008, where the EC pledged a package of up to €500 million for the period 2008-10 and mobilized a total pledge by international donors of €3.44 billion. A number of projects are already under implementation such as humanitarian assistance (€8 million), support to internally displaced persons (€61.5 millions from ENPI budget and €15 Million from the Instrument for Stability) and the European Security and Defence Policy mission of EU observers.

International talks for consolidating the EU-sponsored ceasefire were launched in Geneva in October 2008, under the co-chairmanship of the EU, UN and OSCE. The EU co-chair is led by the EU special representative Pierre Morel, especially appointed for dealing with the consequences of the August 2008 conflict. The European Commission and the UNHCR act as co-moderators of the Working Group dealing with humanitarian and IDP issues.

Assistance to Georgia

In parallel with the exceptional conflict-related assistance, the EC continued in 2008 to support national reform efforts in Georgia. A total amount of €28.8 million of programmed assistance under the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI) was earmarked with a focus on further supporting for the criminal justice reform and on for “twinning” operations linked to the implementation of the ENP Action Plan. This assistance was a part of an indicative amount of €120.4 million, which has been allocated to Georgia for the period 2007-10.

Under the Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) contributions for one project - Black Sea Energy Transmission System - was approved in 2008, committing €8 million in technical assistance, expected to leverage €200 million in loans. Additionally, €2.65 million was programmed for 2007-2008 under the thematic programme “Non State Actors and Local Authorities in Development”.

The Communication from the Commission to the Parliament and the Council Implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy in 2008 (23 April 2009) and a country report on Georgia are available at

http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm

More on Georgia and ENP:

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/georgia/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm

See also IP/09/625 EU reinforces ties with its neighbours and continues to support their reforms.


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