Why is conclusion of European Commission on Georgian EU candidate status so important?
Georgia is waiting for the conclusion of the European Commission
On June 17, the European Commission will publish its assessment of Georgia. It is on the basis of this document, which the European Commission will present to the leaders of the EU member states at the summit on June 24-25, that a decision will be made on whether to grant Georgia the status of a candidate country.
The European Commission will prepare its assessment based on the EU questionnaire, which consists of two parts. Georgia has already filled it in and sent it. In total, the country answered 2,700 questions from the European Commission. There were 369 questions in the first part of the questionnaire, and over 2,300 in the second.
Georgia’s responses to the EU questions have not yet been made public.
Georgia's accession to the EU – the timeline
On March 3, Georgia applied for EU membership.
On April 11, the country received the first part of the questionnaire from the EU.
On May 2, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, handed over the answers to the first part of the questionnaire to the EU Ambassador in Georgia Karl Hartzel.
On May 10, the second part of the completed questionnaire was also handed over to Karl Harzel.
On June 17, the European Commission will consider Georgia’s application.
At the summit on June 24-25, the European Commission will present its opinion on the applications of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova on the status of candidates for EU membership.
In June, Georgia is waiting for another important document – a resolution of the European Parliament. It will be made public this week.
The European Parliament is not a decision-making body on the way to membership. But his support is an important political signal.
- Georgia’s plan to apply for EU membership by 2024
- The future of Georgia Project: Georgia’s unfinished search for its place in Europe
For example, the European Parliament has already adopted a similar resolution on Moldova and Ukraine. The resolution in support of Ukraine was adopted on March 1, the day after Ukraine submitted its application. Support for Moldova was expressed later, on 5 May.
In a resolution on Ukraine, the European Parliament called on the EU institutions to work on granting the country candidate status. Concerning Moldova, the European Parliament stated that it welcomes its application for membership.
In the case of Georgia, experts expect the resolution to be critical. This assumption is based on the situation with freedom of speech in Georgia. This topic will be discussed by the deputies of the European Parliament.
MEPs have already made many negative statements about this, especially after the arrest of Nika Gvaramia, director of Georgia’s main opposition Mtavari TV channel.
Experts say that this resolution will not have a decisive impact, but, nevertheless, it is an important document on the way to the EU.
The final decision will be made at the end of June. On June 24-25 it will become known whether Georgia is expected to join the EU. These days, the leaders of all 27 EU member states must unanimously decide whether to grant Georgia, as well as Ukraine and Moldova, candidate status.
What is happening in Georgia?
Georgia’s accession to the European Union is causing serious political controversy. The opposition says the government is doing nothing to get a positive response, and the government accuses the opposition of a negative propaganda campaign in the West to tarnish the country’s image.
At the same time, members of the government are already preparing society for the fact that the answer may be negative, in which case, everyone will be to blame, except for the government itself.
“Imagine that the European Union did not give us candidate status, who will be happy with this decision? Only Russia!”, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said on June 3 at the international forum on global security issues in Bratislava.
The Prime Minister said that Georgia is doing everything to get this status – carrying out reforms, signing free trade agreements, citizens have the right to visa-free entry to the EU, and people are happy with this:
“So what? The EU decides not to grant this symbolic and meaningful status. It will be a mistake!”, said the Prime Minister.
The experts did not like the tone of Garibashvili’s statement.
“It would be more correct for the prime minister to say: “We know that we have shortcomings, but we also know how to fix them”, than to say that “we have done everything, now it’s up to you”, said the head of the Center for European studies, Kakha Gogolashvili.
The opposition did not accept Prime Minister Garibashvili’s tone either. And in response to government statements, the ALDE resolution adopted last week was also rejected.
ALDE – Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe – is the third largest political party in Europe. It unites European liberal parties. The alliance includes five opposition parties from Georgia: Agmashenebeli Strategy, Lelo, Girchi – More Freedom, Republican Party and Free Democrats.
The resolution, adopted at the ALDE congress in Dublin on 4 June, acknowledged the “historic choice of the peoples of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to join the European Union” and welcomed “the three countries’ ten-year struggle for freedom and democracy”.
“The ALDE resolution is a response to the statements of the Georgian Dream that the opposition is blocking the process of obtaining Georgia’s candidate status”, said Republican Party leader Khatuna Samnidze.
What to expect from the EU?
Experts are discussing several versions of the answer that Georgia can receive from Brussels:
- Obtaining a status without additional obligations and conditions. This, according to experts, would be the best scenario.
- Candidate status with additional conditions and obligations – The European Commission will support the granting of candidate status to Georgia, but with some conditions that the country will have to fulfill.
- Status of a potential candidate. This means that a country will first have to fulfill certain conditions before being granted candidate status.
- Georgia will definitely become a member of the European Union. Such a response assumes that the conclusion of the European Commission will indicate that Georgia will definitely become a member of the European Union in the future.
- Postponing a decision – The European Commission will simply postpone the decision.
- Refusal. Experts consider refusal the least likely. In history, there is only one case of refusal – Morocco which was rejected due to the geographical position of this country.