European Parliament Ratifies EU-Georgia Association Agreement Leading to Deep Political Association and Economic Integration

The European Parliament on Thursday ratified the EU-Georgia Association Agreement in a move that paves the way to establishing deep political association and economic integration between the EU and Georgia, including the progressive opening up of their respective markets.

The deal is the third in a new series of association agreements that the European Parliament has been asked to ratify, after those with Ukraine and Moldova. It was approved by 490 votes to 76, with 57 abstentions.

“The European Parliament is confident that this agreement will be a stepping stone to further reforms to create a democratic society characterised by pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity, equality and human rights,” said European Parliament President Martin Schulz.

Georgia has made significant progress in reforms and strengthening its relations with the EU,” said rapporteur Andrejs Mamikins from Latvia. “Although much work remains to be done, experience shows that Georgians prefer to solve their problems, not to avoid them. I think that Europe should now show its real solidarity with Georgia and its people,” he added.

In an accompanying resolution, approved 491 votes to 84, with 63 abstentions, MEPs stressed that the agreement covers the entire internationally recognised territory of Georgia, although Russia continues to occupy the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The European Parliament condemned the conclusion of the “so called alliance and strategic partnership” treaty between Abkhazia and Russia as a step towards the full annexation of Abkhazia; and calls upon Russia to withdraw it.

Parliament also noted that Georgia had made significant progress in reforms and that like any other European state, it has EU membership prospects if the conditions are met. However, it urges Georgia to consolidate the reforms, end selective and political use of justice and work towards a society of pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, solidarity and equality between women and men.

EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström described the Association Agreement/DCFTA with Georgia as “a chance for an ambitious upgrade of our current trade relations,” with Georgia now developing its exports and getting closer to the EU economy.

As the agreement promotes an open, stable and predictable policy-making environment, it is expected to encourage European direct investment in Georgia, the Commissioner pointed out.

The first figures following application of the agreement are optimistic: imports from Georgia into the EU increased by more than 50% in September, the first month of the agreement’s application.

The EU is Georgia’s largest trading partner. Bilateral trade in goods amounted to €2.7 billion in 2013. According to independent economic predictions, full implementation of the agreement and the related reform programme could increase Georgia’s GDP by more than 4% or nearly €300 million in the long term.

Source: enpi-info.eu

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