EU-Georgia relations started in 1992, after Georgia regained its independence from the Soviet Union, and were gradually strengthened throughout the years. With the 2003 Rose Revolution and Mikhail Saakashvili’s appointment as president, the cooperation between Georgia and the EU experienced a further acceleration, as the country undertook ambitious political and economic reforms. Due to its renewed western orientation, Georgia joined the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) in 2005 and the Eastern Partnership (EaP) in 2009.
The EU maintains a firm position on Abkhazia and South Ossetia: since the early 1990s, the Union has supported Georgia’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and pushed for a longer-term conflict resolution. The EU’s efforts in this direction were particularly noticeable in the aftermath of the Russo-Georgian conflict in August 2008, when the EU set up a Monitoring Mission, appointed a Special Representative for South Caucasus and increased its budget on conflict resolution.
The 1999 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement constituted the main legal basis for EU-Georgia bilateral relations until June 2014, when an Association Agreement was signed in the framework of the EaP. This document – which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (AA/DCFTA) – entered into force on 1 July 2016 and aims to deepen political and economic ties between the two actors. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area gives Georgian companies access to the EU’s single market, increasing trade and creating new business opportunities. The EU’s financial assistance to Georgia comes through funds established within the EaP: the European Neighbourhood Instrument will provide €335-410 million for the period 2014-2017.
A Visa Liberalisation Action Plan between Georgia and the EU was presented in 2013 and the following Progress Reports acknowledged the successful implementation of all the benchmarks set in the Plan. For this reason, the European Commission proposed on 9 March 2016 to lift visa requirements for Georgian citizens to enter the Schengen Area. The Council confirmed the Commission proposal on 5 October 2016 and agreed its negotiating position on visa liberalisation for Georgian citizens.
Key EU-Georgia Documents (Click to Expand)
EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA)
The EU-Georgia Association Agreement (AA), initialled in November 2013, is an ambitious document going beyond the established framework of cooperation and opening a new stage in the relations between the EU and Georgia. The Agreement aims to deepen political and economic relations between both partners, and to gradually integrate Georgia into the EU Internal Market. As such the AA, includes the setting up of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA), which is a core element of the Agreement.
Single Support Framework (2014-2017)
The Single Support Framework outlines the strategic framework within which European Commission assistance will be provided to Georgia under the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI), for the period 2014-2017. It sets out the EU’s policy and cooperation goals together with its intended strategic response. For the second half of the programming period of the ENI 2014-2020, a new Single Support Framework is to be adopted.
The bilateral ENI budget allocation for Georgia for the period 2014-2017 is €335-410 million, an average of broadly €100 million per annum. The indicative allocation for the whole period (2014-2020) will be €610-746 million.
The EU and Georgia have established the following three priorities for cooperation through the bilateral envelope 2014-2017:
- Public Administration Reform (25%);
- Agriculture and Rural Development (30%);
- Justice Reform (25%).
Besides the priority sectors a complementary support for capacity development and civil society is foreseen with 20% of the entire budget of the given period.