EU urges Georgia to withdraw ‘foreign agent’ bill


BRUSSELS: The European Union on Wednesday urged Georgia to withdraw its controversial “foreign agent” law, warning that the move would deal a blow to the country's ambitions to join the bloc.
“The adoption of this law has a negative impact on Georgia's progress on the EU path,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said in a statement.
“The choice to proceed lies in Georgia's hands. We urge Georgian authorities to withdraw the law.”
Georgia's parliament on Tuesday passed the third and final reading of a bill that would require organizations receiving more than 20% of their funding from abroad to register as agents of foreign influence, imposing tougher disclosure requirements for violations. And punitive fine will be imposed.
“The EU has clearly and repeatedly stated that the spirit and content of the legislation are not in line with the EU's core norms and values,” Borrell and Varhelyi said.
“This will spoil the work civil society and independent media while freedom of association and freedom of expression are fundamental rights at the core of Georgia's commitments as part of the Association Agreement and any EU accession path.”
The statement from two members of the European Commission, the bloc's executive body, came after days of standoff between EU member governments and officials.
Diplomats said officials initially tried to agree a statement among the bloc's 27 member governments, but that did not happen because of resistance from Hungary and Slovakia.
It then took longer to agree a commission statement between Borrell, a Spanish social democrat, and Varhelyi, a Hungarian nominated by his country's nationalist government.

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