Štefan Füle, EU commissioner for enlargement and European neighbourhood policy, said on May 12 he had witnessed in Tbilisi Georgia’s full commitment to take up opportunities offered by EU through its Eastern Partnership and European Neighborhood Policy (ENP).
Füle, who visited Georgia in early April, however, also said that some of the ideas of “ultra-liberal economic environment” in Georgia were not in line with “pillars” of EU-Georgia future partnership.
“We had discussion [in Tbilisi] on what it means to be fully involved in the Eastern Partnership and to use fully the instruments being offered through the Eastern Partnership; here I am talking about Association Agreement, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area [DCFTA] and the Mobility [Partnership],” Füle said.
“I think we were able to explain them [the Georgian authorities] that, particularly these first two [Association Agreement and DCFTA] pillars of our future partnership require a full engagement from them [the Georgian authorities] and it might not be fully compatible with some of the ideas of ultra-liberal economic environment to be created in Georgia,” he said.
Füle said that during meeting with senior Georgian officials in Tbilisi he had witnessed “a full commitment” that the Georgian authorities would fulfill set of measures, which were required for launching talks on DCFTA and Association Agreement.
He was speaking at a news conference after presenting a review of European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), launched in 2004. The progress reports released on May 12 about fulfillment of commitments by ENP participant countries also includes Georgia.
The progress report on Georgia, among other issues, also says that starting from second half of 2009 Tbilisi “showed determination to fulfil key EU's recommendations” required for starting negotiations with EU on DCFTA.
“As a result, some progress was achieved, notably the preparation of the first drafts of the necessary strategic reform plans,” the report says.
During the press conference, Füle said that this year countries in ENP would receive total of EUR 1,6 billion of targeted assistance this year and funding would increase to EUR 2 billion in 2013. He said the biggest funding increases would be allocated for Morocco, Moldova and Ukraine – the states he described as “the most engaged partners in European Neighborhood Policy cooperation.”
“Higher our partners ambitions – the stronger our response. Partners like Morocco, Moldova and Ukraine have immediately realized the potential for closer relations and are making significant use of [European Neighborhood] Policy. Others have taken up some elements of the offer immediately, but are reluctant on others. The Policy allows for that flexibility,” the EU commissioner said.
“Protracted conflicts,” he said, continued to hinder security and economic growth of EU’s neighborhood.