The EU and Georgia have quite a longstanding relationship, starting from 1992 following the recognition of Georgia’s independence by the European Union. Soon afterwards, in 1994, Georgia started the preparation process to sign the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA). The agreement was signed in Luxembourg on 22 April 1996, which determined the major framework for future relations between the EU and Georgia. The EU helped Georgia with its ongoing process of economic reform and development through its Technical Assistance to the Commonwealth of Independent States program. In addition, on 7 July 2003, the EU appointed a Special Representative for the South Caucasus, underlining Brussels’ interest in the region.
This was perhaps a result of the fact that the EU came to be geographically closer to the region through its eastern enlargement in 2004; also, in the aftermath of Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution, the country’s new president, Mikheil Saakashvili, pushed for greater cooperation with the EU, making EU membership a major goal for Georgia. In relation to this, on 14 June 2004, the Council of the European Union decided to launch the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) for Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia, to enhance cooperation with neighboring countries. After two years, the European Neighborhood Policy Action Plan (ENP AP) was officially adopted between the EU and the Government of Georgia. The Action Plan provides strategic objectives for EU-Georgia cooperation, and ensures the implementation of relevant political and economic priorities.
During the Russia-Georgian war in 2008, the EU was actively involved in brokering a ceasefire and mediating between the two opposing sides. The EU engagement led to the signature of six-point ceasefire Agreement between Russia and Georgia. The six-point peace plan was negotiated by the then-French Presidency of the EU, but has only partially been implemented by Moscow. At the same time, on September 25 2008, the Council of the European Union appointed its EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia (EUSR).
The role of the European Union as a mediator would become even more important in the aftermath of 2008 August War. In June 2009, the OSCE had to end its monitoring operation of 17 years, following Moscow’s refusal to extend the mission’s mandate. This was in part a consequence of the three South Caucasus states reaching out to the West. The EU stepped in to fill the vacuum left by OSCE shutdown, as the European Union Monitoring Mission in Georgia (EUMM) was established on 15 September 2008. The establishment of the Mission, aimed at monitoring the 2008 ceasefire agreement, meant that the EU is now effectively the main security actor in Georgia. The EU also acts as a co-chair of the Geneva Process peace talks, which are aimed at finding a solution to the protracted conflicts. However, the Geneva Peace Process has done little more than maintain the status quo.
Shortly after the 2008 August War, on October 22, the Georgian Donor’s Conference, organized by the European Union and the World Bank was held in Brussels. Partner countries and international donor organizations pledged 4.5 billion dollars to support Georgia for 2008-2010. The EURONEST Parliament was established on 3 May 2011 in Brussels, when the presidents of the Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian, Moldovan, Ukrainian and European Parliaments signed the assembly’s Constitutive Act. The Mission of the EUROENST PA Assembly is to promote the conditions necessary to accelerate political association and further economic integration between the European Union and the Eastern European parties, as well as to strengthen cooperation within the region itself as well as between the region and the EU. The multi-lateral Assembly contributes to strengthening, developing and making visible the Eastern Partnership. Georgia is contributing to the EU’s peacekeeping efforts, by participating in EU military training missions (European Union Force) in the Central African Republic and Mali.
European integration remains a long-term strategic priority for Georgia’s foreign and domestic policies. The signing of the Association Agreement on 27 June 2014 marked a new phase in EU-Georgia relations, which Tbilisi stated made Georgia’s Europeanization process irreversible; it entered into force on July 1 2016. The DCFTA means a closer economic integration of Georgia with the EU based on reforms in trade-related areas, and increases market access between the EU and Georgia based on having better-matched regulations. At the same time, Georgian citizens have benefited from visa free travel to the Schengen area since March 28 2017.The EU is now Georgia’s largest trading partner and provides over 100 million Euros to Georgia annually in technical and financial assistance. Despite the fact that the Association Agreement is not an official guarantee that Georgia will eventually become a member of the EU, it helps Georgia to strengthen democracy, peace, stability, economic growth and to approach EU’s standards and laws as close as possible.
On 29 September 2017, the European Commission announced a new Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) programme to Georgia of up to EUR 45 million. Of the total amount, up to EUR 10 million will be provided in the form of grants and up to EUR 35 million in loans.