EU halts Georgia accession and freezes financial aid over controversial ‘foreign agent’ law News
Kober, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
EU halts Georgia accession and freezes financial aid over controversial ‘foreign agent’ law

The EU ambassador to Georgia, Pawel Herczynski, confirmed the EU’s decision to halt Georgia’s accession process and freeze a portion of its financial support to the country on Tuesday. The decision comes in response to a newly adopted Georgian law that critics argue curbs democratic freedoms.

Herczynski stated, “Regrettably, Georgia’s EU accession process is stopped for now – this has been decided by EU leaders during the last European Council.” He added that “[The] EU has frozen its support for Georgia from the European Peace Facility, totaling 30 million euros for 2024.” He further noted that additional measures are under consideration should the situation worsen. “It is sad to see EU-Georgia relations at such a low point, when they could have been at an all-time high,” he said.

The controversial law in question mandates that media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other non-profit groups register as “pursuing the interests of a foreign power” if they receive more than 20 percent of their funding from abroad. Despite mass protests and a veto from Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, the law was passed by the Georgian parliament.

In December, the EU granted Georgia candidate status for membership, contingent on several reforms, including fighting disinformation, aligning foreign and security policies with the EU and implementing justice reforms. However, membership talks did not commence as Georgia had not met the necessary preconditions. To initiate talks, unanimous agreement from all 27 EU member nations is required, along with a negotiating mandate and a comprehensive screening procedure.

The EU had previously warned that Georgia’s new “foreign agent” law jeopardized the country’s bid for EU membership. At the summit which took place on June 27, EU leaders explicitly cautioned that Georgia’s path to membership would be blocked unless the law was repealed. They urged Georgian authorities to “reverse the current course of action which jeopardizes Georgia’s EU path, de facto leading to a halt of the accession process.”