Now I have started a working group for Georgian foreign policy, and we are now going to focus on EU-Georgian relations. In June 2014, the association agreement between the EU and Georgia was signed, which will have huge consequences on the Georgian society and future policies. This makes it into a very important matter to learn about since it will have both pros and cons, dependent on how it will be ratified and implemented.
The Georgia officials has a goal to join the EU and said in 2014 that they could be a full member in 5-10 years. A clear majority in Georgia are pro these ambitions. However, even though the greens are also in favor of these plans, we have to analyze the process and articulate critique where it goes wrong, both to the domestic government and the EU. The domestic government in its lack of effort to implement new regulation and in the harmonization process, and the EU in its unwillingness to support the transition as much as is needed. Since Georgia now are following EU directives in the transition, and especially if Georgia once would become a member, there is a need to give critique. Since this the EU will be a great player in domestic policy in Georgie, we have to use the democratic right and duty to examine its power. Therefore we need to inform ourselves about this new kind of institutional actor, and the consequences it will lead to in Georgia. What has been made wrong in most other EU countries, is the lack of interest in EU policies, even though it stands for a big amount of decisions that in the end become national law and regulations. Also when it comes to future membership, the Georgian Young Greens have to be prepared for new ideas and policies that they want to push for within the EU.
What analysis that can already be done in this process is about the economic capabilities for a stable transition. Some facts are that Georgia already have a high rank on how easy it is to do business, especially when it comes to start-ups, with easy access to property, electricity, protection for investors, favorable taxation, trade and contracts etc. However, indicators such as education, financial market, innovation and sophistication of business, are at a relatively low rate, which shows the importance of education. The association agreement will make it more attractable for investors due to a more stable market. In the short run, it will be costly and hard to adapt, but in the long run it will make the economy more efficient and hopefully more sustainable.
One perspective for us is of course how this could be done in a sustainable way, and if it is sustainable at all to increase the economic integration. When it comes to the plausible increase of foreign direct investment, it would be desirable if it would lead to new techniques that will help a sustainable development. However, then it has to be preceded by an efficient implementation of EU regulations, especially the ones that is connected to environmental protection. One huge difficulty in the struggle towards harmonization is that the regulations that are already into force are not followed when it comes to the practice, especially regulation on environment. Even though the law is relatively easy to adjust, it will be harder to make adjustments in technical standards and patterns of production. This needs added recourses, and since the domestic funds are scarce, the EU have to help if they are serious in their integration goals. People and business also needs education and support to be able to adapt to the emerging market, education to fight ignorance and knowledge about how to adapt. A good thing would be to give wider access to the Erasmus program and exchange for academic staff.
What we as a green movement in Georgia have to show here is that regulations and higher environmental standards are good for the economy and society in the long run, that it will increase innovations and a better way of life. Also push for to not forget democratic values, the protection of human rights and a developed welfare system as one of the tools in this transition. It is an investment, not a cost. The first step is to push the government to adopt sustainable regulations, and the second step in the future is to be a part of the change to even more sustainable regulations in the EU.