Today, the Association Agreement (AA) between the European Union and Georgia fully enters into force. The Association Agreement aims to deepen political and economic relations between the EU and Georgia, also through the creation of a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA). By removing customs tariffs and quotas and by comprehensively approximating trade-related laws and regulations to the standards of the European Union, the Agreement offers Georgia a framework for boosting trade and economic growth. This will facilitate Georgia’s progressive integration with the EU single market.
The High Representative/Vice-President, Federica Mogherini said: “With the full entry into force of our Association Agreement with Georgia, the EU-Georgia relationship becomes both broader and deeper, to the benefit of us all. The EU is looking forward to further strengthening its cooperation with a country that is still working on crucial reforms in areas such as the rule of law, the accountability rules for public decision-makers and transparency.”
EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn said: “Georgian citizens will increasingly be able to reap the benefits of closer association with the EU as a result of our Association Agreement. Better business opportunities for Georgian small- and medium-sized enterprises, improved safety of locally-grown agricultural products and enhanced energy efficiency: these are just a few areas where we already saw promising signs during the provisional application of the Agreement, which can now progress even further. Let me encourage Georgia to make full use of the substantial assistance – around €100 million per year – that the EU is providing to support the country’s reform agenda.”
Having signed up to an Association Agreement with the EU, Georgia has made commitments in the areas of democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, a market economy and sustainable development. Furthermore, the Agreement commits Georgia to an ambitious reform agenda in key areas such as security policy, trade, economic recovery and growth and governance. Enhanced cooperation between the EU and Georgia in many areas including, for example, environmental protection, social development and protection, transport, consumer protection, education, youth and culture, industry, and energy, is also foreseen in the Association Agreement.
Substantial parts of the Association Agreement have been provisionally applied since 1 September 2014. In that time, we have already witnessed significant and concrete achievements. Georgian exports to the European Union increased by 16% in 2015 and, as a direct result of the DCFTA, new Georgian exports to the EU are materialising. Georgian kiwis, blueberries, nuts, garlic and wine are already exported to the EU. Copper and petroleum oils have also seen sizeable increases of exports to the EU. Furthermore, Georgia has adopted European standards in areas like health, safety and environmental protection. An Association Agenda which outlines the short- and medium-term reform priorities for the period 2017-2020 is currently under preparation.