The bloc wants Georgia to show serious commitment to reforms in key areas under the Association Agreement.
Over the past year, the implementation of reforms under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement has been hampered by some setbacks on the part of Tbilisi.
In its annual Association Implementation Report, the EU acknowledged that Georgia continues to its reform path in tough circumstances, despite the recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic and the ongoing Russian military operation in Ukraine.
However, we've seen setbacks in the areas of rule of law, governance and human rights, said Josep Borrell, EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
He urged Tbilisi, whose European perspective was recognized by the bloc in June, to take a responsible and conscientious approach that matches its stated objectives and its citizens' aspirations. Oliver Varhelyi, EU's commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement, said the ball is now in Georgia s court. He added that a serious commitment to democratic consolidation, judicial reforms, strengthening the rule of law and fighting against corruption and organized crime will be a priority.
The EU pledged to continue supporting Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the reform process and economic development.
The Association Implementation report was published ahead of the Annual EU-Georgia Association Council, which takes place on September 6, Brussels said.
The European Commission decided last month not to rush the Georgian political elite and to give Tbilisi enough time to work on the reforms required to grant candidate status. Michael Rupp, the European Commission spokesman in the European Parliament, said that an assessment of Georgia's implementation of the priorities set by the EU in June will not take place before 2023.
The Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia entered into force on July 1, 2016. On March 3, this year, a week after Moscow launched its attack on Ukraine, Tbilisi submitted an application for EU membership. On June 23 the bloc recognized the European perspective of the country and confirmed its willingness to grant candidate status once outstanding priorities are addressed, even though Georgia did not receive candidate status. On the same day, the EU granted candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, which had also applied for EU membership following the launch of Russia's military operation.
In June of this year, the European Council stated that the progress of each country towards membership will depend not only on meeting the criteria but also on the EU's capacity to absorb new members. Russia blasted the EU's expansion strategy, saying that granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova proves that the bloc's goal is to contain Russia.