Part of civil society organizations positively evaluates approval of government plan for the fulfillment of recommendations of European Commission, but states that the content of the plan needs to be clarified

Part of the civil society organizations positively evaluates the approval of the government plan for the fulfillment of the recommendations of the European Commission, however, they state that the content of the plan needs to be clarified in several directions.

In connection with this, ten non-governmental organizations issued a statement, where it is stated that the document of the action plan is general and its content does not fully correspond to the recommendations determined by the European Commission.

"We, the signatory organizations, support the plan approved by the government for the implementation of the steps determined by the European Commission for Georgia. We believe that the approval of the action plan is a positive step and it should contribute to greater openness and accountability of the government, however, the presented plan was not developed with proper involvement, and its content needs to be clarified in many directions.

After granting Georgia the status of a candidate country for EU membership on December 14, 2023, the European Commission defined 9 priority steps for reforms, after which negotiations on Georgia's EU membership will be opened. In order to fulfill the 9 priority steps defined by the European Commission, the Government of Georgia developed an action plan, which was published only on December 25, although the mentioned document was approved by the Government Commission for European Integration on November 27.

The development of the action plan is an important step that should inspire the confidence of the civil society, the political spectrum and the international community in the work processes. However, civil organizations and opposition parties were not even involved in the process of developing or approving the action plan. It is significant that the involvement of civil society in the decision-making process is one of the priorities of the European Commission. It is true that the action plan was sent to the European Commission before its publication, but it is still unknown to the public what type of communication/feedback was provided by the European Commission and whether the Georgian side implemented the Commission's recommendations (if any). This issue is particularly noteworthy in light of the fact that the Government sent an already approved document to the European Commission.

It is significant that institutionally the action plan has been approved by the Government, while a number of measures/actions described in it fall under the mandate of the Parliament (it is true that the representative of the European Integration Committee of the Georgian Parliament attends the meetings of the Government Commission for European Integration, but without the right of deliberative vote). Developing/approving the action plan in this way ignores the balance between the branches of government and diminishes the role of the Parliament in the process of determining the main directions of the country's domestic and foreign policy. We believe that the action plan should have been developed by the Parliament, or at least with its active involvement, although it is not known to the public how actively the legislative body was involved in the development of the action plan.

As for the content of the document - we understand that the action plan cannot be fully detailed and cannot define in detail all the steps planned in each direction. However, at the same time, it should create specific frameworks and expectations for both process and content. In this regard, the action plan document is quite general and does not contain existing or target indicators, and its content does not fully correspond to the recommendations defined by the European Commission.

Considering all of the above, we call on the Georgian authorities to base their policies/approaches on participation, dialogue and openness in the process of implementing the recommendations of the European Commission. At the same time, the authorities should recognize the challenges/problems in certain directions and take real steps to respond to them in accordance with the recommendations of the European Commission, the Venice Commission and the OSCE," reads the statement.

The document is signed by the following organizations: Civil Society Foundation; Social Justice Center; Sapari; Georgian Court Watch; Georgian Young Lawyers Association; International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED); Georgian Democratic Initiative (GDI); Governmence Monitoring Center (GMC); Democracy Research Institute (DRI); Information Freedom Development Institute (IDFI).

US Ambassador discusses visa restrictions and future of US-Georgia relations
Estonian Ambassador to Georgia - If we want EU membership, we should all play by the rules - The Georgian Government on the one hand says that they are moving closer to the EU, but their actions do not prove that