EU enlargement is usually not a much loved concept, especially now in “the age of austerity” when not only the future, but also the present seems to be quite uncertain. For western European taxpayers enlargement often means the possibility of more emigrants entering their countries and more spending on implementation of various EU policies and so on.
On the bright side process of the neighborhood countries getting closer to EU helps promote democracy, establish the rule of law and consequently social justice. I will now look on this process from the Georgian perspective. That’s where I am from and where I happen to be now on the Easter holiday.
Surveys show that Georgians have a very positive attitude towards the EU. You don’t need a questionnaires to see that the EU is at the center of Georgian policy making. It works on two levels. Firstly EU is a political actor and financial contributor. Amount of financial contributions as well as the success of the government’s foreign policy depends on how the government implements the advice and recommendations from EU and Europe related bodies like Venice Commission. Secondly, it seems (at least to me) that the Europeanisation discourse, to some extent, forms an opinion of Georgian electorate. Georgians are stuck between the dark past (literally, no electricity and infrastructure) associated with Russia and Soviet Union and the prospect of future which lies in Europe. If someone is having views different from the traditional ones is often referred to as the “European” and the recent history of Georgia is a story of more and more people becoming “European”.
As EU is a political actor it has the ways of influencing Georgian politics . All the recent democratic changes, arguably successful fight against the corruption, growth of accountability and the implementation of other reforms was part of the Europeanization of Georgia which happens on both political as well as social levels.
Recent developments also showed how EU politics is mirrored in the Georgian parliament. PM’s Letter to EPP and the answer of the EPP with the conditional roadmap and the post by EPP twitter account which united three hashtags #Ivanishvili #alde and #fail, represents a good illustration of how close EU has become to Georgia. it seems as if the Georgian parliament now mirrors the European Parliament. (Saakashvili is the member of EPP and the two parties of the GD coalition – Republicans and The free democrats are the part of ALDE.)
Further, the only bipartisan resolution adopted by parliament so far contains this clause:
“Integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, joining the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization represents country’s foreign policy priority. Unconditional establishment of democratic values and principles of the international law represents the major precondition for successful implementation of this strategic course;”
I can conclude that the EU is now the most important actor in Georgian politics. However if Eu wants to remain as an important actor it should stay positive in the eyes of kind of electorate which is charmed by the prospect of being closer to EU. Georgians might be disappointed if their country doesn’t get a well deserved association agreement and deep and comprehensive FTA.