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Over the last few years, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine have invested extensively in deeper political and economic integration with the European Union (EU), enhancing this formally since 2021 under the ‘Association Trio’ initiative. For this objective, full usage of the potential of the provisions of the Association Agreements (AA) and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTA), have crucial significance. This report was developed following intensified efforts by the Association Trio countries to advance their economic integration with the European Union (EU). Given the broad nature and extensive list of legislative approximations, the implementation of the DCFTAs requires immense efforts. This includes the role of CSOs to support and facilitate communication between the state authorities and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), which in general lack competencies, skills, and resources to reap the benefits of the DCFTAs.
Despite the focus of both the EU and national governments on making progress on the path of DCFTA implementation, the degree to which the DCFTA benefits each country remains limited. Since joint – civil society and government – eff orts are necessary to increase the speed and effectiveness of DCFTA implementation, this study identifies the role and positive added value of civil society actors in the process by drawing a comparative assessment and highlighting the good practices, as well as the limitations of civil society engagement in the three states. Based on research findings and cross-country discussion among civil society, field experts, and SMEs this report develops multi-stakeholder policy recommendations to boost the effi ciency of civil society engagement.
The report is based on desk research conducted in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine that mapped civil society implemented projects at both central and regional levels. 16 semi-structured interviews were conducted in the three countries with key stakeholders, representatives of civil society, SMEs, and government officials from relevant ministries. Interviews included questions related to the current role that civil society has in the process, as well as open questions regarding the perception of how civil society engagement can be improved and other important roles civil society that could be played in DCFTA implementation. Six focus groups were conducted in each country with civil society and SME representatives, with overall 48 participants from SMEs and CSOs. Preliminary findings of the research were presented at round-table discussions with field experts in each of the three countries and the feedback has been incorporated in this report.
In the following document:
- The role of civil society in DCFTA implementation in Georgia
- The role of civil society in DCFTA implementation in the Republic of Moldova
- The role of the civil society in DCFTA implementation in Ukraine
This publication was produced in the framework of a project – The Role of the Civil Society in DCFTA Implementation in Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine – funded by the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum (CSF) and implemented by the Georgian Institute of Politics (GIP, Georgia), the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE, Moldova) and the Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting (IER, Ukraine).
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum, Georgian Institute of Politics, Institute for European Policies and Reforms, or Institute for Economic Research and Policy Consulting.