Tuesday

27th Sep 2016

EU and Georgia edge closer to association deal

  • EU Council chief Van Rompuy (r) will attend a summit on the eastern partnership in Vilnius in autumn (Photo: President of the European Council)

EU trade officials concluded talks on a free trade agreement with Georgia on Monday (22 July), as the South Caucasus country edges towards an association treaty with the bloc.

The commercial text covers trade in energy and services together with standards on rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Officials hope to seal overall agreement on the trade and association pact in October or November.

According to the European Commission, the EU is Georgia’s largest single trading partner, accounting for 26.6 percent of its total trade in 2012. The EU executive arm also estimates that the free trade deal could increase the country's economic output by 4.3 percent per year, equivalent to €292 million.

The EU started negotiations on an association agreement with Georgia in July 2010, as part of its eastern partnership strategy launched in 2009 involving Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine.

Although the agreements do not offer the prospect of accession to the EU, the bloc is keen to use access to its markets, as well as visa liberalisation schemes, in exchange for commitments to political reform.

Progress on the eastern partnership is the main priority of the Lithuanian presidency, with the prospect of signing an association agreement with Ukraine in the autumn widely regarded as being the big prize.

Earlier this month, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told journalists in Vilnius that "stopping the drift" of the proposed eastern partnership agreement with Ukraine, as well as energy policy, would be the two priorities of her country's EU presidency.

However, Grybauskaite acknowledged that relations with Ukraine were "sensitive and complicated."

She added that President Viktor Yanukovych's government would be required to move towards judicial reform, in particular by ensuring that the office of public prosecutor should be politically neutral, and to end "selective justice" by releasing former PM Yulia Tymoshenko from jail to receive medical attention.

The Lithuanian government is anxious that failure to secure agreement with eastern European countries could push them into the arms of Russia, which is promoting its own trade bloc.

Launched in 2010 together with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which itself borders Lithuania, the Russia-dominated Customs Union aims at establishing a future Eurasian Union by 2015.

Critics such as the United States fear that it is an attempt by Moscow to re-establish a Soviet-style economic bloc.

Analysis

Serbia and the convenient spy

The manufactured cold war between Croatia and Serbia has been a convenient distraction from some of Serbia's domestic problems.

Opinion

EU's Kosovo meddling risks Balkans chaos

The EU and the US are is unfairly pressuring Kosovo to ratify a border deal with Montenegro against the will of the opposition. It could bring trouble to the Western Balkans region.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFAMessages of Hope From the Basque Country and Galicia
  2. Access NowDigital Rights Heroes and Villains. See Who Protects Your Rights, Who Wants to Take Them Away
  3. Martens CentreQuo Vadis Georgia? What to Expect From the Parliamentary Elections. Debate on 29 September
  4. EJCAppalled by Recommendation to Remove Hamas From EU Terrorism Watch List
  5. GoogleBringing Education to Refugees in Lebanon With the Clooney Foundation for Justice
  6. HuaweiAn Industry-leading ICT Solution Provider and Building a Better World
  7. World VisionUN Refugees Meeting a Wasted Opportunity to Improve the Lives of Millions of Children
  8. Belgrade Security ForumCan Democracy Survive Global Disorder?
  9. YouthProAktivEntrepreneurship, Proactivity, Innovation - Turn Ideas Into Action #IPS2016
  10. GoogleTrimming the Waste-Line: Weaving Circular Economy Principles Into Our Operations
  11. Crowdsourcing Week EuropeDon't Miss the Mega Conference to Master Crowdsourcing, Crowdfunding and Innovation! 10% Discount Code CSWEU16
  12. ACCAKaras Report on Access to Finance for SMEs in a Capital Markets Union