EU Halts Georgia’s Accession and Freezes Aid Over Controversial Law

Simona Mazzeo
credit; eureporter

Brussels (Brussels Morning) – Georgia’s accession to the EU has been discontinued, and some of the bloc’s financial backing to the South Caucasus nation has been frozen after the Georgian administrations assumed a new law that critics feared would impede democratic freedoms, the EU Ambassador in Georgia said.

Why has Georgia’s EU accession been discontinued?

According to Pawel Herczynski, EU leaders chose to halt the process during the last meeting of the European Council, and it came in the wake of the Georgian authorities embracing the law on “foreign influence” despite weeks of protests.

“The European Council asked Georgia’s authorities to elucidate their intentions by reversing the current course of action which risks Georgia’s EU path, de facto leading to a standstill of the accession procedure,” the council said.

In addition, a sum of 30 million euros in financial aid, reserved for Georgia’s Defense Ministry in 2024, has been blocked, Herczynski stated at a news conference.

“This is only the first measure, there will be other steps. Our direct backing to the government of Georgia will be restricted, and we will seek to redirect backing from the government of Georgia to civil society and the media,” he stated. “It is sad to notice EU-Georgia relations at such a low 

the point when they could have been at an all-time high.”

How is the “foreign influence” law affecting Georgia?

The regulation, which came into effect last month despite mass demonstrations and an embargo from the country’s president, demands media, nongovernmental organizations and other nonprofit groups to report as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they acquire more than 20% of their allocation from abroad.

The opposition has criticised the bill as “the Russian law” because Moscow utilises similar legislation to stigmatize autonomous news media, organizations and people critical of the 

Kremlin, and called its passage a symbol of neighbouring Russia’s hold over Georgia.

How has the new law impacted Georgia’s EU path?

EU officials have often denounced the law as undemocratic and stated it would hinder Georgia’s way to EU membership. The bloc arranged to grant membership candidate status to Georgia in December on the situation that it fights disinformation, including against the EU, gets its foreign and security procedures into line with the bloc’s, and presents new justice reforms, among other measures.

Membership discussions did not get underway. To begin talks with a candidate, the 27 EU nations and that nation must agree on a negotiating commission. EU professionals must also perform a screening procedure, to investigate how much work needs to be done to bring Georgia’s rules and standards into line with those of the bloc.

Once those preconditions have been fulfilled, an intergovernmental meeting would be called with Georgia to officially project the start of talks. Each action requires unanimous consensus from the EU member nations and can be stopped at any point. At a meeting on June 27, EU leaders cautioned Georgia that its path toward membership would be stopped unless the “foreign influence” law was repealed.

What did EU officials criticize about Georgia’s new law?

They urged “Georgia’s authorities to explain their intentions by changing the current course of action which threatens Georgia’s EU path, de facto leading to a suspension of the accession process.” In the days before the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell expressed the bloc was viewing “putting a hold to our financial aid to the government” in Tbilisi and devaluing political contacts. 

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Simona Mazzeo is a journalist at Brussels Morning News. She is covering European Parliament, European Council, European Commission & Italy News. She is a law graduate and lawyer residing in Agropoli, has carved out a multifaceted career dedicated to justice and social advocacy. She actively serves as a delegated councilor for the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Bar Association of Vallo della Lucania, championing fair and equal representation within the legal system. Recognized for her expertise and empathy, Simona is qualified for registration in the list of Special Curators of minors in civil and criminal matters at the Court of Vallo della Lucania, ensuring the rights and interests of vulnerable children are protected throughout legal proceedings. Beyond her legal practice, Simona demonstrates a strong commitment to social causes. She is a founding member of the Free Lawyer Movement, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing legal assistance to those who cannot afford it. Additionally, she leverages her knowledge and passion for social justice as a non-professional journalist, contributing insightful and informative pieces on relevant legal and societal issues. Through her diverse endeavors, Simona Mazzeo exemplifies dedication to legal excellence, social responsibility, and a fervent belief in equal access to justice for all.