A meeting of the EU-Georgia Parliamentary Association Committee with the participation of civil society, EEAS and DG NEAR representatives was held at the European Parliament on 17 March 2016.
The Chairman of the Georgian National Platform (GNP) of the EaP CSF Kakha Gogolashvili commented on monitoring of the Association Agreement (AA) implementation by the GNP against the backdrop of the Memoranda of Cooperation signed between the GNP, the Georgian government and the Georgian Parliament. The access to information by the civil society and communication with the public were identified as the main areas of concern. Incomplete governmental reporting and unclear performance indicators of the Implementation Plan undermine monitoring efforts by the civil society. Moreover, a shift in focus from governmental actions to their impact on the general population in the context of Association Agreement is required.
The Georgian Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration David Bakaradze discussed the advancements in areas like human rights, judiciary reform, and economic cooperation, emphasizing Georgia’s ardent commitment to approximation towards the EU. He also highlighted improvements in transparency of implementation of the AA and increased role of the civil society organizations in this process. Genadi Arveladze, Deputy Minister of Economics and Development, stressed the need to fully take advantage of opportunities presented by the AA/DCFTA for the benefit of the citizens. He also commended government’s efforts concerning transparency, citing the success of the DCFTA Advisory Group’s consultations between the civil society organizations and the government. Reforms in the justice sector, including changes to appointment of the Supreme Court justices based on integrity and competence as well as reforms to juvenile justice system, were presented by Deputy Minister of Justice Alexandre Bramidze.
Thomas Mayr-Hartin, Director for Europe and Central Asia at the EEAS, commended Georgia’s efforts on the path to visa liberalization whilst addressing the visa liberalization proposal by the Commission. However, he also expressed certain concerns, noting that the EU will continue to closely follow justice reforms and the trials of members of the opposition.
The Director of Neighborhood East unit in DG NEAR Lawrence Meredith reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to financially support institutional developments in Georgia in the context of the Single Support Framework. He also noted the importance of communicating information regarding the AA in a user-friendly manner, and the continuous cooperation between the StratCom East Task Force and DG NEAR on fighting propaganda.