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EU Candidate Status – What Does It Mean For Georgia?

The EU Delegation in Georgia invited public to submit questions regarding the EU’s work in Georgia and how the EU supports Georgia’s journey towards EU membership through social media. The EU Delegation to Georgia team is ready to address your inquiries. Check out the responses:

Question: What does the EU candidate status mean for Georgia and for its citizens, and what can you do to contribute to Georgia’s path towards EU membership?

Answer: Many of you replied to our call for questions, which we opened when Georgia obtained EU candidate status in December 2023. I want to thank you sincerely for your interest and assure you that we are addressing all your questions. 

Let me start with what the EU candidate status means for Georgia. First and foremost, it is a recognition of the strong support that the people of Georgia have demonstrated for its European future.

Georgia’s future in the EU is linked to fulfilling several important steps, the famous 9 steps. Addressing them is crucial for Georgia to move to the next stage, which is opening the accession negotiations. All these steps and stages are not to “please Brussels” but to improve the lives of the people of Georgia and bring Georgia closer to the EU standards.

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As Georgia has embarked on the path of EU membership, it is up to political leaders to work constructively together and to involve civil society and business to address the people of Georgia’s European aspiration. You can be sure that the EU will support Georgia every step of the way.

Teona also asked what she could do as a regular citizen to contribute to Georgia’s goal of being part of the EU one day. Teona, expressing your support to EU values is the way ahead. As you say, Rule of Law and Human Rights should be Georgia’s compass on its path towards EU membership.


Question: Will the EU candidate Status help reduce the existing political polarisation in Georgia?

Answer: The EU is well aware that political polarisation is a serious concern to the people of Georgia. Many of you have asked about the current political climate in Georgia. 

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Addressing political polarisation is, in fact, the third of the 9 steps that Georgia needs to address before accession negotiations can be opened. Polarisation is a result of lack of dialogue. The EU has been consistently calling for all political leaders – the ruling party and the opposition – to engage constructively to end polarisation. There is a political consensus in favour of Georgia’s EU path, so it is a matter of agreeing on how to achieve that national goal. And our experience with those countries that have already joined the EU is that it can go quicker when there is a national consensus on the reforms necessary to join the EU.

Looking at the 9 steps, each of them, if fulfilled, leads to depolarisation: from improving the electoral process and parliamentary oversight, to fighting disinformation and ensuring fundamental rights such as freedom of assembly and expression.

All these steps need to be implemented for Georgia to move ahead in the enlargement process. We trust that the whole society take this task seriously.

Question: How does the EU candidate status assist Georgia in fighting Russian propaganda and disinformation online?

Answer: Fighting disinformation and foreign information manipulation and interference against the EU and its values is the first step of 9 that Georgia needs to address to move ahead with enlargement. 

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Disinformation is a complex challenge that must be tackled consistently and from multiple sides through close cooperation among relevant state agencies, stratcoms, civil society organisations, fact-checkers, academia, media and other key actors. The EU has been – and will continue to support a diverse range of activities to help counter disinformation in Georgia. Our efforts help strengthen vigilance and resilience of the Georgian public and promote a whole-of-society approach where everyone has a part to play.

In order to counter disinformation, we are empowering key local actors and help build their capacity to promote critical thinking and improve essential skills like basic fact-checking, media literacy and digital literacy. This is done through thematic trainings for various target groups across Georgia, including youth and minorities, and providing essential resources for teachers and other key multipliers.

The EU also supports independent media and investigative journalism and collaborates with fact-checkers to fill the information space with credible, fact-based information and debunk misconceptions. Additionally, our Delegation and EU-funded projects also pro-actively communicate with the Georgian public to inform about the EU, the Enlargement process and the EU-Georgia relations.

Moving ahead, Georgia needs a rigorous and inclusive national strategy, complemented with a cross-sectoral and measurable action plan with rigorous oversight mechanisms. Fighting disinformation is a matter of national as well as European security.

More Questions on Democracy

Question: Will the EU candidate status bring improvements to Georgia’s judicial system?

Answer: A fair, impartial, inclusive, accessible and effective judicial system is an integral part of the Rule of Law obligation for all EU Member States and candidate countries. 

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Member States and EU candidate countries, such as Georgia, must ensure that the rules and procedures to provide justice are human rights-based and comply with EU acquis, the Fundamental Rights Charter, and international standards. This requires a firm commitment to eliminating external influences over the judiciary and to devoting adequate financial resources and training. Legal guarantees for fair trial procedures must be in place.

The EU stands side by side with Georgia to ensure that Rule of Law principles and standards are respected and complied with. The EU is fully committed to assist Georgia in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of its justice system and implement reforms as recommended in the EU enlargement report. EU support focused on enhancing capacities in crime prevention, juvenile justice as well as probation, and penitentiary systems.

The EU will continue to support to the strengthening of the juvenile justice system, the fight against gender and domestic-based violence, the promotion of restorative justice and non-custodial measures, as well as improving access to court rulings.

Question: Will the candidate Status mean that EU will put more effort into ensuring human rights of minorities and other vulnerable groups are respected in Georgia?

Answer: Human rights and the protection of minorities are core EU values, essential to a just and inclusive democracy.

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As an EU candidate country, Georgia is expected to continuously and proactively work towards a greater alignment with our shared values and EU policy on minority rights and the freedom of assembly and speech for all, including vulnerable groups. Improving the protection of human rights is one of the 9 steps for Georgia to fulfil to move to the next phase of the enlargement process. As such, the EU will not only maintain but also strengthen its focus on human rights related issues as Georgia continues on its EU path.

The EU will continue to work closely with the civil society, the Georgian government, and other international institutions to ensure that Georgia upholds its commitment to the international human rights conventions that Georgia has ratified. This includes assisting the Georgian government in fully implementing its human rights action plan for 2023 – 2030 and continuing to advocate for a stronger focus on key areas such as the protection of rights of minorities and vulnerable groups.

Question: How does the situation with the breakaway regions of Georgia affect the country’s EU accession pathway? Is EU committed to supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity?

Answer: The EU firmly supports Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.

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The EU has been actively involved in conflict resolution efforts, including through the work of EU Special representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia and the EU Monitoring Mission (EUMM), which has been present on the ground since 2008.

Georgia’s EU future cannot and will not be taken hostage by the conflict. All the efforts have to be undertaken so that the whole population of Georgia can benefit from the EU integration process.

More opportunities for de-isolation and contacts between communities, including more structured contacts with civil society organisations from the occupied breakaway regions need to be created. We remain convinced that strengthening further democracy and the rule of law in Georgia as part of the path towards EU membership will inevitably make Georgia attractive for the people in the occupied breakaway regions. It is our common responsibility to ensure that the benefits that come with the EU accession process are made known and appealing to the populations in Georgia’s occupied breakaway regions.

Question: Given that Georgia does not have a direct land border with the European Union, could this potentially diminish its prospects of attaining membership in the Schengen area?

Answer: The Schengen Area is not defined by the type of border. A number of EU member states (Malta, Cyprus, Ireland) are also members of the Schengen area despite not sharing a land border with the rest of the EU.

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If Georgia were to join the Schengen area, crossing the air or sea borders with the other Schengen Area countries would not require any border crossing checks. That is, one could take a flight from Tbilisi to Lisbon or a boat from Poti to Varna, without having their passport checked.

However, before joining the Schengen area, Georgia would be required to align to the Area’s common rules. In particular, this would affect Georgia’s non-EU land borders as these would become the EU external borders.

The requirements would concern the crossing of the EU external borders, including visa checks, harmonisation of the conditions of entry, cross-border police cooperation, and stronger judicial cooperation through a faster extradition system and the transfer of enforcement of criminal judgments.

Find out more about the EU’s work on Democracy in Georgia Here

Economic Development

Question: Could the EU candidate status improve labour rights in Georgia and facilitate legal employment opportunities for Georgian citizens in EU countries?

Answer: The EU and Georgia are working together on developing the job and labour market for Georgian citizens by expanding high quality vocational education, improving labour policies, and supporting entrepreneurship training.

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As part its accession process, Georgia will have to align all its legislation in the field of employment and labour to the EU acquis, the body of EU law, and ensure its enforcement.  This will include improvements related to working conditions, working times, non-discrimination and other employee rights and obligations.

As EU Membership ultimately means accepting and enjoying the “four freedoms” – freedom of movement of goods, capital, services and people – Georgian citizens will benefit from full labour rights within the whole EU once Georgia joins the EU. These include social protection and obligatory insurance, formal employment, salaries, and pensions. During the accession process, the Georgian Government will have to address the current gap between Georgia and the EU in terms of labour standards and social protection.

Question: How has the EU’s partnership with Georgia supported its economic development and how will Georgia’s candidate status further enhance it?

Answer: The economic cooperation between the European Union and Georgia is very strong, building on more than 30 years of a close partnership. The EU is Georgia’s main trading partner. It is also Georgia’s largest foreign donor. 

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Per capita, Georgia receives one of the highest levels of assistance of all of the EU’s partners and we currently provide around EUR 85 million of grant funds annually to support Georgia’s ambitious reform agenda.

The EU works together with Georgian authorities to implement the Economic and Investment Plan, under which the EU has already mobilised EUR 1.9 billion in public and private investments to strengthen digital, energy, and transport connections in Georgia and between Georgia and the EU and support small and medium sized businesses.

The EU is supporting Georgia’s inclusive economic growth, creating employment opportunities for Georgian citizens, connecting people digitally and physically, ultimately to improve life in Georgia.

The opportunity to travel freely to the European countries under a visa-free agreement has also benefitted more than a million Georgians.

With the EU candidate status, economic integration between the EU and Georgia will continue to grow as Georgia approximates its legislation, laws and standards to those of the EU. By moving ever closer to the EU, Georgia will benefit from EU’s forward looking legislation in many areas – the EU Green Deal, the common agriculture policy, the artificial intelligence act, and many more – through knowledge and experience sharing, expertise, innovation, and financial support.

Question: Will the EU candidate status revitalise agriculture and help rural populations of Georgia?

Answer: In the field of agriculture and rural development, Georgia’s candidate status means that it could access more funding as it prepares to integrate the Common Agricultural Policy

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In general, EU candidate countries receive support and benefits in the agriculture field as a part of the pre-accession assistance. So, Georgia could receive further support to align with the EU food safety rules and the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, at the heart of the EU Green Deal designed to make food systems fair, healthy and sustainable.

Georgia could also gain valuable market access. The acceleration of the implementation of the new regulations ensuring food safety and quality management compliance with EU standards, will support the access of Georgian agricultural products to the international and EU markets.

Georgia could benefit from the Rural Development Initiatives, as the EU places a strong emphasis on rural development. As an EU candidate country, Georgia may receive support for initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, promoting sustainable agriculture, and enhancing the living and working conditions in rural areas.

In line with the EU’s Common Agriculture Policy, the EU also encourages sustainable farming practices. The accession process should encourage Georgia to adopt measures that promote responsible agroecosystems ensuring fair revenues to the farmers, keeping rural areas attractive and ensuring food security.

Moreover, EU candidate countries often receive support for training programs and capacity building to improve the skills and knowledge of farmers, agricultural professionals and policymakers. This can contribute to the modernisation and efficiency of the agricultural sector.

All this will help Georgia’s agriculture and food production. And given the quality of Georgia’s produce, I look forward to seeing more of these on the shelves of EU shops.

More Questions on Economic Development

Question: Are there any upcoming EU initiatives to help modernise transport networks and improve inclusive accessibility for all citizens?

Answer: Georgia has benefitted from substantial EU support to modernise its transport systems and make them more sustainable. This includes the provision of a fleet of new electric buses in Tbilisi and Batumi, which meet high technical standards and a high level of safety and reliability in operation, ensuring the comfort of passengers. 

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The new batch of buses facilitates easier access for passengers including those with limited movement, such as the elderly and the disabled.

Georgia has benefitted from substantial EU support to modernise its transport systems and make them more sustainable. This includes the provision of a fleet of new electric buses in Tbilisi and Batumi, which meet high technical standards and a high level of safety and reliability in operation, ensuring the comfort of passengers. The new batch of buses facilitates easier access for passengers including those with limited movement, such as the elderly and the disabled.

The EU has also provided technical assistance to the development of rail transport, including the gradual alignment of its legislation and the Georgian railway sector with the relevant EU standards and regulations in terms of accessibility.
Together with the German development bank, KfW, the EU is planning to work on the establishment of an Intelligent Transport System as well as other infrastructure for sustainable transport, including priority bus lanes and accessible pedestrian infrastructures.

Find out more about the EU’s work on Economic Development in Georgia Here


Question: Will the EU candidate status enhance educational opportunities and diploma recognition for Georgian youth in the EU? What impact does it have on Georgia’s education system?

Answer: The EU is a long-standing partner of Georgia in the education sector. Georgia has been benefitting from the EU Erasmus+ programme offering International Credit Mobility, Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, Capacity Building in Higher Education, Jean Monnet activities.

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The EU is a long-standing partner of Georgia in the education sector. Georgia has been benefitting from the EU Erasmus+ programme offering International Credit Mobility, Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters, Capacity Building in Higher Education, Jean Monnet activities. Students can apply via their home university for a grant for short-term credit mobility of 2 to 12 months or enrol as a self-financing student in the Erasmus Mundus joint master’s programmes.

With the candidate status, the European Commission will support Georgia to align its education system with the EU practices and recommendations to prepare Georgian students to be tomorrow’s EU citizens. For example, Georgia will participate in the Eurydice Network allowing Georgia to learn about the organisation and functioning of the education systems in the EU Member States. Moreover, Georgia has recently been invited to nominate representatives to participate in the working groups under the European Education Area.

Since 2007, the EU has also been actively supporting the Georgian government reform the vocational education and training system, modernising the content of the programmes, creating partnerships with employers, informing citizens on the opportunities available, and creating new ones. Thousands of people, notably vulnerable women and men in Georgia’s regions, have reaped benefits from vocational education and lifelong learning programmes. These programmes have also equipped them with the essential skills to start their own businesses, or to enhance their current and future job prospects.

Georgia’s candidate status allows Vocational Education Training institutions, their teachers and students to participate more actively in joint initiatives and exchange good practices with other EU Member States.

Find out more about the EU’s work on Youth in Georgia Here


Question: What does the candidate status mean for Georgia’s culture?

Answer: Europe is a culturally diverse community of shared values, where Georgia, with its rich cultural tradition, has an important role to play and will contribute to the EU.

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Georgian citizens are already benefitting from the possibilities offered by the Creative Europe Programme, which enables organisations and artists to collaborate and co-create internationally. It also provides artists, such as ballerina Natia Bunturi, cultural mobility opportunities. The ongoing and future regional EU4Culture programmes promote intercultural dialogue and knowledge exchanges, including cultural exchanges. Cultural exchanges and as people-to-people contacts contribute to social and economic development. Georgia’s EU candidate status will continue fostering the existing EU-Georgia cultural cooperation.

In addition, the EU respects and promotes the unique culture of Georgia. This includes funding for the preservation and the development of the creative sectors. Historic cities and towns in Georgia often face challenges, which drive inhabitants to leave in search of better lives elsewhere. To improve local living conditions, the EU helps identify opportunities to transform heritage as a source for development and entrepreneurship. It is about enabling the economic potential of heritage assets through sustainable tourism and trade. For the first time, thanks to EU support, several cities in Georgia have started to work on their Cultural Development Strategies. This is a major opportunity to further

Find out more about the EU’s work on Culture in Georgia Here


Question: Will there be any improvements in Georgia’s waste management with the EU candidate Status?

Answer: Already before becoming a fully-fledged EU Member State, Georgia should align its waste management system with the EU. The EU Green Deal guides current and future Member States to climate neutrality by 2050, with at least 55% less greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

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As part of the EU green deal, the EU Waste Framework Directive requires countries to adhere to waste management without endangering human health, posing risks to the environment and biodiversity, adding to noise or smell pollution, and affecting rural places disproportionately. The primary focus is on the prevention of product waste, and only then preparing for their re-use, recycling, recovery and disposal of waste. Re-use and recycling of municipal waste is set to increase gradually by 2025 over a decade with a recycling rate of 65%. This can only be achieved if businesses and consumers are producing and consuming more sustainably. It requires a systemic and proactive change from within the society and incentives to the industry.
Through regional programmes, such as EU4Environment, as well as bilateral projects on Waste Management and Circular Economy, the EU has supported initiatives to introduce circular economy tools and support waste prevention.

Through the European Financial Institutions, the EU has invested in major infrastructure such as landfills and waste treatment plants. Furthermore, the uptake of the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) notion in Georgian circular economy conversations and legislation is a right step towards the alignment with the Green Deal and its Circular Economy Action Plan.

Ultimately, improving Georgia’s waste management sector not only advances the country’s bid for an EU future, but also improves the livelihood of its population, creates a durable economy, and protects the country’s biodiversity.

Find out more about the EU’s work on Environment in Georgia Here


Question: How the EU Artificial Intelligence Act might affect Georgia as a candidate country? Will Georgia face new obligations in the field of AI?

Answer: The new EU Artificial Intelligence Act is about ensuring the European Union is safe, respects fundamental rights and democracy, while businesses can thrive and expand. 

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The new EU Artificial Intelligence Act is about ensuring the European Union is safe, respects fundamental rights and democracy, while businesses can thrive and expand.  

The EU AI Act will impose stringent obligations for providers of high-risk AI systems. It will introduce trustworthy AI requirements such as data quality, documentation and traceability, transparency, human oversight, accuracy, cybersecurity and robustness

Furthermore, the AI providers will have to do a conformity assessment before placing the AI system on the market, to demonstrate compliance with the Act. There will be quality and risk management systems to minimise risks for users and affected persons, as well as a mandatory registration in an EU database. This will be subject to enforcement to ensure that risks are effectively addressed. 

As part its accession process, Georgia will have to progressively align its legislation to the EU acquis and ensure its enforcement. This is also the case for artificial intelligence. The EU can only be safe and democratic if all its current and future Member States are.

Find out more about the EU’s work on Digital in Georgia Here