Monday

23rd Jan 2017

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.

Interview

'Don't push Turkey away', says writer Elif Shafak

Novelist and essayist Elif Shafak said that isolating Turkey would "play into the hands of populism" and that liberals everywhere should defend their values with "emotional intelligence".

News in Brief

  1. Fury over UK 'cover up' of failed missile test
  2. Theresa May: I will not be afraid to stand up to Trump
  3. Brexit will destroy NI peace deal, says Gerry Adams
  4. EU housing price increase by 4.3%
  5. EU trade chief says UK deal will take 'couple of years'
  6. German defence spending boost not enough for Nato goal
  7. Belgian MPs refuse to give up free alcohol
  8. Merkel last leader to get call from Obama

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  2. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  3. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  5. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  6. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  7. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  8. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  9. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  10. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  11. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  12. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!

Latest News

  1. Future of euro on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Pope warns populism could lead to 'saviours' like Hitler
  3. How the EU can protect the world’s forest by tackling corruption
  4. Leftist newcomer takes lead in French Socialist primary
  5. Far-right groups pledge allegiance ahead of elections
  6. Trump pledges US-first foreign policy
  7. GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room
  8. Trump: New sheriff in town