What Do the EP Elections Mean for Georgia?
13 June, 2019
What Do the EP Elections Mean for Georgia?
The European Parliament elections are over, with the liberal wing sighing with relief, while the right wingers can smugly point to the increase to 25% of representation in the world 's second largest democratically elected parliament. But what does the new set-up mean for Georgia? As a Georgian at the European Commission, I tried to answer that in a piece written for the Georgian Foundation For Strategic and International Studies (Rondeli Foundation).

The mood on election night was quite gloomy in
Brussels. Europeanists from all sides felt anxious about the possible populist surge. It did not happen, yet there are still not many reasons to celebrate.

The good news is that the European Parliament (EP) elections gained something of a new momentum. Since its first ever direct elections in 1979, the voter turnout has continuously shrunk, while this year we saw an increased participation by almost 9% compared to the previous elections. This positive trend suggests that people are interested in Europe again, that there is an awakening of the European demos, who no longer view the EP elections as 'second order' elections. More good news is that the populists and nationalists are contained, and hysteria of a genuine cleavage among pro-EU and anti-EU populist forces is over.

The bad news is that the EU is left in uncertainty. Not because of fragmentation, after all the major parties secured a majority, but because of the growing division among the Member States, which hold conflicting visions on the future of Europe. In the new setting of the Council, it will become more difficult to reach agreements. The political ambiance is affected by the populists as well. Although they did not rise significantly, their share of seats increased from 20 to 25%. It is particularly worrisome that Italy, a founding Member State, is drifting away from EU principles and in the words of Nathalie Tocci, has “chosen a path of national marginalization.” Salvini's far right League party came first in Italy. It promises to change the rules of the EU game together with France, the UK, Hungary and Poland. Marine Le Pen's victory, although with a small margin, signals the weakening of Macron's Renaissance vision of the EU, while in the UK, Farage is again in the spotlight. In Belgium, election night turned out to be a 'Black Sunday' - the nationalist, separatist and anti-immigrant party, the Vlaams Belang (Flemish interest) won triple elections (regional, federal and European). The rise of these types of parties illustrates that the times of political taboos are over, and people are not shying away from proclaiming themselves extreme right.

These trends again confirm that the political architecture in Europe is in constant flux. However, we should not be mistaken into reading the European trends in the votes of a single country. If green politics appeal to German and French citizens, the same is not valid for example for Central and Eastern Europe. The voters' preferences appear fragmented, shedding light on the regional divisions and disparities within the Union.

But what do the EP elections mean for Georgia?


First of all, it means that there is a new balance of power in the European Parliament. 40 years of majority between the conservative center-right EPP (European People's Party) and PES (Party of European Socialists) is over, and broader coalitions are expected to be created, including among the Liberals and Greens. Now the challenges for Georgia might be that agreements and decisions on country specific issues and on foreign affairs (the Eastern Partnership), will be more complex and prolonged. Georgian diplomats will need to adjust their negotiation strategies to various political groups; however, their efforts will be in vein if national political parties do not decide to cooperate. The cross-party partnerships of leading Georgian parties will be needed to secure attention from Europarty (parties with EU-level officials, Members of the European Parliament) and relevant political figures. It is high time that the Georgian political parties pool their resources to lobby in a coordinated manner the country's strategic interests at the EU level.

Georgia's level of ambition will also depend on who will take the EU's top jobs. The key question here is will the next Commission be political or technical? If the Commission President will be chosen via the Spitzenkandidaten (lead candidate) procedure (which means that the European Council should propose a candidate taking into account the election results of the European Parliament), the Commission will emerge as a more political institution, strong enough to support by itself the new formats and partnerships with the neighborhood countries, including Georgia. If the Council decides to reject this procedure, the President will be nominated by the European Council. This will signal a return to intergovernmentalism, shifting the power balance towards the member states, which don't show much enthusiasm for the enlargement agenda. It is no coincidence that the European Commission recommended opening accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia in an annual report published recently; however, as Martin Selamayr, the European Commission's Secretary General, confirmed in a private talk, the result of the upcoming Council Summit in June will be zero, as Member States are reluctant. Naturally, in order to advance the neighborhood policies, it will be essential to have a strong High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as well as a committed Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighborhood Policy.

Looking ahead, it is clear that while the EU will need to fix its internal challenges, among others reconciling the populist moves and the green waves, Georgia should not find itself put aside. Its political elites should find a cross-party consensus and build a solid strategy involving civil society to advance the country's interests by enhancing its channels of strategic communication at the EU and Member States' level.

By Teona Lavrelashvili

Image source: ft.com

Related stories:



Print
Other Stories
Adam Kinzinger: I Strongly Support Georgia's Immediate NATO Membership
Congressman Adam Kinzinger, Chairman of the Georgian Caucus of Congress, is one of the main authors of critical letters received by the Georgian government in recent months.
Matthew Bryza: "I think it’s a shame if Georgia doesn’t participate in this digital hub project"
Matthew Bryza worries new telecommunications law targets Caucasus Online and will block major investments that could make Georgia the strategic center of a “digital silk road”
Czech Ambassador: “Georgia among the best countries worldwide when it comes to combating Covid 19”
"Czech contribution in monitoring COVID-19 in Georgia was invaluable and hugely important” - Georgia’s Health Minister Ekaterine Tikaradze praised the Czech Republic’s contribution during Friday meeting with the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Georgia, H.E. Petr Mikyska as the Georgian and Czech sides met to discuss various aspects of joint collaboration.
Russian MFA Statement About Lugar Research Center-Another Disinformation
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia responds to the statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry regarding Lugar's laboratory.
UN Human Rights Council Adopts Resolution On Occupied Territories Of Georgia
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the occupied territories of Georgia - "Cooperation with Georgia" within the framework of its 43rd session.
Kurt Volker about 20th of June: People Can’t Forget That
Given that one year has passed since June 20, 2019, it is interesting to see how the West assesses the developments in Georgia during this one year and what expectations it has for the October parliamentary elections.
Eastern Partnership Beyond 2020- Context and Expectations
The Eastern Partnership (EaP) marked its 10th anniversary in 2019. The round dates always come with reflections and new resolutions for the future.
"8 March Agreement Is Very important For Georgian Democracy"-Carl Hartzell
The 8th March agreement concerned not only the change in the electoral system but justice and the impermissibility of political partiality in electoral processes, - stated the Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, Carl Hartzell during his video broadcast.
Donald Trump Congratulates Georgia on Independence Day
The President of the United States of America Donald Trump sent a letter of congratulations to the Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Gakharia on Independence Day.
US Ambassador Congratulating Georgia on the Independence Day
US Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has congratulated Georgia on the Independence Day.
Georgia's President Warns Covid-19 Crisis Could Trigger Russian Aggression
Georgia’s president has warned that Russia’s struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus and an economic crisis compounded by an oil price collapse risk is triggering new Kremlin aggression beyond its borders, - reads an article published by Financial Times.
Creation of Maps Violating Georgia's Territorial Integrity To be Considered Illegal
Production, advertising, use, and transportation of maps and other objects reflecting the violation of the principle of territorial integrity of Georgia will be considered as an illegal act.
Turkey Starts Accepting Health Tourists From Georgia
Turkey has started accepting foreign patients from several countries, including from Georgia.
Georgia Has The Greatest Support In the World From EU-Carl Hartzell
A true friend is known to be in trouble, and we have proved that we are true friends, ”-EU Ambassador to Georgia Carl Hartzel said during an online meeting with members of the European Business Association.
The EU Council Has Approved a Package of Financial Assistance to Georgia
The Council of the European Union (EU) has approved a package of emergency macro-financial assistance for 10 countries as part of its Neighborhood and Enlargement Policy.
The US Ambassador Stresses The Importance of Fair Judiciary System
We would like to see more American companies invest in Georgia and more Georgian companies in the United States said US Ambassador Kelly Degnan during a virtual press conference.
"One More Political Prisoner Is Still Waiting To Be Released"-McAllister
The MEPs expressed their opinions about the political situation in Georgia at the discussion of the report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.
Promoting Georgia As a Safe Destination For Tourism
“Georgia – a safe destination” is a message that Georgian diplomats should send to people in their countries, - Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia said while talking to Georgian ambassadors abroad via a video conference today.
UN To Allocate USD 1 Million To Support COVID-19 Crisis in Georgia
The United Nations will allocate USD 1 million for Georgia to help the country better respond to the immediate health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the most vulnerable groups from the devastating socio-economic impacts of the health crisis.
U.S. Senators Express Concern Over The Expulsion of American Businesses From Georgia
U.S. Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Congressmen Judy Arrington, and Markwayne Mullin have written to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, expressing concern over the expulsion of U.S. companies and businesses from Georgia.
European Parliament Approves €150 Million Aid For Georgia
The European Parliament on Friday approved €3 billion in loans to help EU neighbors and partner countries deal with the fallout of COVID-19.
MEPs and U.S Senators Welcome the Pardon of Opposition Politicians
Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili announced yesterday that she was pardoning Georgian opposition politicians Gigi Ugulava and Irakli Okruashvili, which she said was ‘a very difficult decision’.
The Presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia Received a High Assessment
According to the Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, the presidency of the Council of Europe of Georgia had a very high assessment at the international level.
Coronavirus Crisis is an Opportunity to Deepen Relations With the EU-Salome Zourabichvili
The President of Georgia Salome Zourabichvili talked to the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö on March 14.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
05.08.2020
06.08.2020
USD
1
USD
3.0729
3.0739
EUR
1
EUR
3.6190
3.6398
GBP
1
GBP
4.0086
4.0336
RUB
100
RUB
4.1656
4.2064
Other Stories
On 26 May, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, joined celebrations in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
Violation of Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity by Assad regime has been strictly criticized
Exactly one year ago, Georgia was granted visa-free travel with the European Union.
Georgia’s ex-president president Mikheil Saakashvili's supporters managed to free detained Mikheil Saakashvili in the center of Kiev.
The US Ambassador to Georgia Ian Kelly congratulates Georgia on Independence Day.
The regulations on the introduction of visa-free travel for citizens of Georgia have been officially signed in Brussels.
The entire Georgia is involved in Secret Santa game, which means that people are sending gifts to each other secretly
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia is taking part in NATO Ministerial underway in Brussels, Belgium.
A special squad has been mobilized at the 48th polling station in Marneuli, Kvemo Kartli region.
Two politicians in Georgia have come to blows during a live TV debate ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections, Euronews reports.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
3.0739
EUR
1
EUR
3.6398
GBP
1
GBP
4.0336
RUB
100
RUB
4.2064
August 2020
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31