Ana Andguladze is currently doing a short-term research internship at the European Policy Centre, mainly working on EU’s relations with Eastern Partnership and specifically with Georgia. She is full-time policy researcher at International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) in Tbilisi, Georgia, with a main focus on Georgia’s European Integration, European Affairs, foreign policy and strategic communications.
This week, she writes both as en expert and as a youth representative, to answer the question: ‘What is the concept of European identity and how have the European Union and Member States contributed to its expansion and recognition among citizens?‘
Judging from a Georgian perspective, the European Union and member states have contributed greatly to strengthen the sense of European Identity in some Eastern neighborhood countries with initiatives such as Eastern Partnership and with its benefits (Association Agreement including DCFTA and granting citizens short-term visa-free travel to Schengen Zone). Thus giving strong incentives to governments of those countries to implement reforms and getting closer to European standards.
Nowadays, when the unity of the European Union and European identity itself is somewhat challenged, there is a small country, located in what is considered to be the cross-road between Europe and Asia, where the vast majority of the population supports European Integration. Indeed, Georgia is one of the oldest states in Europe, as well as one of the first ones, who adopted Christian religion. Right after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 90s, Georgia officially started to build up its foreign policy, concentrating on Europe and the West. After 2004 and Rose Revolution, Georgia’s new government defined European integration as a main foreign policy goal of the country and since then Georgia-EU’s relations are only advancing. Even though nowadays Georgia’s EU membership perspective is not something being discussed realistically in member states or in Brussels, the country still continues to be part of the European family.
EU’s active engagement with countries like Georgia, representing a success story of the Eastern Partnership, is important for both sides. For Georgia, it is a way to strengthen its democratic institutions and the country’s economy. For the EU, Georgia has become a reliable ally in its neighborhood and also an example that EU’s normative power is still effective in some cases. That is why the EU and member states should take into account public support and efforts of some countries in EU’s neighborhood and ensure that their belonging to European identity is well acknowledged.
Ana Andguladze is currently doing short-term research internship at the European Policy Centre, mainly working on EU’s relations with Eastern Partnership and specifically with Georgia. She is full-time policy researcher at International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy (ISFED) in Tbilisi, Georgia. Main focus on Georgia’s European Integration, European Affairs, foreign policy and strategic communications. Holding Master degree in European Political and Administrative Studies from College of Europe (Brugge). Invited lecturer at Caucasus University, Tbilisi, Georgia. Previously worked at the Office of State Minister of Georgia on European & Euro-Atlantic Integration.