EBRD and EU strengthen support to small businesses in Georgia
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will enhance its advisory services in Georgia to support local small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in digitalisation and access to capital markets during the COVID-19 crisis. Together with Team Europe, the EBRD aims to increase the resilience and agility of the private sector.
Backed by €1.8 million in EU funding, the EBRD will help local firms with their digital transformation to avoid interruptions to their operations because of the pandemic and rebuild their businesses with a focus on sustainable and green practices. The previous phase of funding supported strengthening the competitiveness of the country’s SME sector.
In parallel, the EBRD will assist the National Bank of Georgia with the design and implementation of support mechanisms facilitating access to capital markets – both debt and equity – for local corporates, including SMEs. Targeted support will enhance Georgian companies’ preparedness for capital markets, broaden their funding sources and help attract financing from domestic and international investors. Companies can receive tailor-made advisory services and technical support to improve their corporate governance, transparency and credit rating to source investments across capital markets.
The announcement follows the new EBRD President Odile Renaud-Basso’s first visit to Georgia on 1 and 2 February.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Georgia. Since the start of its operations in the country, the Bank has invested more than €4.2 billion in 262 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors.
The news prepared in the framework of the EU project "EU NEIGHBOURS east".
From growing saplings to harvesting grapes: EU and FAO conduct training for Georgian winemakers
Two dozen Georgian grapevine producers have taken part in a training recently held at several locations in Kakheti, a traditional winemaking region of Georgia.
The training was conducted by an expert from the Spanish Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the European Union and FAO in the framework of the EU4Business programme.
The learning sessions covered the entire vineyard cultivation process and the complete cycle of grapevine production from growing saplings to harvesting grapes, and included such topics as general management of various types of vineyards, planning of pruning, fertilisation, irrigation, organic grapevine production and Integrated Pest Management.
EU Innovative Action for Private Sector Competitiveness in Georgia is a joint initiative of the EU and four UN Agencies, which was launched in 2019 with a budget of €5 million. The project aims at enhancing entrepreneurship and business sophistication by strengthening the capacities of government and local entities.
EU for Integrity: grants up to €40,000 for CSOs from Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine
With the support of the European Union, the Open Government Partnership under the EU for Integrity programme has launched an ongoing call for project proposals for its members from the Eastern Partnership – registered civil society organisations and consortia from Armenia, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.
Applicants should focus on using the OGP platform for expanding civil society engagement and building cross-sectoral partnerships in the areas of integrity, anti-corruption, public service delivery, justice, COVID-19 response and recovery, and civic space.
Grants up to €40,000 will cover 4-12 months of the implementation period.
Unlike regular OGP competitions, this call for proposals does not have a specific due date. The proposals are reviewed quarterly.
The call is announced as part of the EU for Integrity Programme for the Eastern Partnership, funded by the EU and jointly implemented by the Open Government Partnership and the OECD Anti-Corruption Network.
EBRD adopts new country strategy for Georgia
Enhancing the competitiveness of Georgian companies
The EBRD stands ready to help companies, including small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), boost their productivity and resilience by enhancing their competitiveness and improving their access to finance, for instance, through investments in digitalisation. The Bank will also continue its work to deepen the local capital market to provide companies with a wider variety of financing options.
Promoting inclusion and regional development
The Bank will step up its efforts to support access to skills development, especially for young people, women and other marginalised groups, supporting job creation, also in regions outside the capital, Tbilisi. Better access to finance and essential municipal services for regional populations is a key focus of the EBRD’s work.
Supporting Georgia’s green economy transition
The EBRD is well positioned to help accelerate Georgia’s green economic transition by supporting initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy. Based on the EBRD’s Green Economy Transition approach and building on its strong track record in this field, the Bank will combine investments in renewable energies with policy engagement. It will support the reform of state-owned enterprises, including greater energy and resource efficiency, and continue to expand its Green Cities framework.
Georgia has made great efforts in recent years to advance reforms and create a sustainable market economy. The new EBRD strategy will support the Georgian economy, significantly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, in its recovery and further development.
The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Georgia. Since it started operating in the country, the Bank has invested more than €4.53 billion in 269 projects in the financial, corporate, infrastructure and energy sectors, with 78 per cent of these investments in the private sector.
Team Europe: EU and EIB invest in fast internet connection for rural Georgia
The European Investment Bank, the Bank of the European Union, will invest up to EUR 34 million in the expanding a high-speed internet network bringing fast and reliable internet services to some 500,000 Georgians living in 1000 rural and remote settlements in Georgia. The investment from the EU bank will finance the installation of 5000 km of fiber optics telecommunications network and provide open-access infrastructure for Georgian telecom operators to provide their fast-internet services. The EU has provided a guarantee through the External Lending Mandate.
This project supports improved digital connectivity as one of the five flagship initiatives for Georgia under the European Union’s Economic and Investment Plan for the Eastern Partnership
This new EIB operation is a part of broader Team Europe efforts to support Georgia in digitalising, accelerating green and sustainable social and economic growth, and increasing nationwide resilience to natural disasters such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carl Hartzell, Ambassador of the European Union to Georgia, said: “Investing in the digital transition in Georgia is key to stimulate jobs and growth and bring about prosperity. Through the EU Economic and Investment Plan, we have already started to deliver real benefits on the ground. This flagship programme will assist in bringing new opportunities and reduce digital inequalities between rural and urban areas by developing high-speed broadband infrastructure for around 1,000 rural settlements. I consider this an important contribution to Georgia’s modernisation and economic development and recovery, while promoting digital inclusion in line with its national broadband strategy.”
Teresa Czerwinska, Vice President of the EIB, who is in charge of operations in Georgia, said: “Our investment in fast and reliable internet services for rural Georgia is more than another Team Europe investment to improve quality of life and doing business for Georgians. It supports digitalisation, the key to the long-term competitiveness of the Georgian economy and its sustainable and green development. Finally, this investment reinforces the recovery of the national economy from the pandemic. Together with Team Europe, EU4Digital the World Bank and the Government of Georgia, we are building modern infrastructure, a cornerstone for a modern and thriving Georgia. The EIB is proud to have contributed yet again towards this goal the whole of Team Europe shares with Georgia.”
Lasha Khutsishvili, Minister of Finance of Georgia said: “One of the main priorities of the Government of Georgia is the development of the digital economy. The improvement of broadband infrastructure is of the utmost importance in this regard. With the support of our international partner institutions such as the European Union, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank, we are aiming for this goal. This aspiration is demonstrated by the “Rural Fibre Network Georgia” project financed by the European Investment Bank. As one of the flagship projects within the Eastern Partnership priorities, it will promote digital development of rural settlements, that will ultimately be reflected in their economic growth. In addition it is in full compliance with Georgia’s National Broadband Strategy and Government’s programme for 2021-2024. I would like to express my gratitude to the European Union for its continued support and willingness to provide assistance in supporting and advancing the priority sectors of Georgia“.
Press Release of EU
Eastern Partnership Summit paves the way for Recovery, Resilience and Reform in the region
The heads of state or government of the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, the representatives of the European Union and the heads of state or government of its member states met in Brussels on 15 December 2021.
The Summit focused on support to five key areas – economy, governance, the environment, digital and society. These priorities build on the past achievements of the European Neighbourhood instrument, taking into account new challenges and opportunities – notably the green and digital transition, as well as the post-pandemic recovery.
During the Eastern Partnership Summit, the leaders agreed a joint declaration, in which they reconfirmed commitments from previous Summits and bilateral agreements, as well as their determination to carry them forward. “On this path, our ambitious reform agenda and enhanced cooperation remains the necessary condition for progress and support: increasing prosperity and fostering peace, stability, sustainability and resilience in the region, notably in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the declaration.
The document also expresses the participants’ deep concern about the continuous destabilisation and violations of the principles of international law in many parts of the Eastern Partnership region that pose a threat to peace, security and stability.
The declaration also says that the EU regrets the decision of the Belarusian authorities to suspend their participation in the Eastern Partnership. In the meantime, the comprehensive plan of economic support for a democratic Belarus, of up to €3 billion, reflects the EU’s commitment to support the democratic choice of the Belarusian people.
Besides, the EU acknowledged the initiative of the trio of associated partners – Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine – to enhance their cooperation with the EU. The European Union also took good note of the increased coordination amongst them on matters of common interest related to the implementation of the Association Agreements and DCFTAs, and on cooperation within the Eastern Partnership. At the same time, the EU and interested partners commended the entry into force of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between the EU and Armenia in March 2021, and welcomed progress in the ongoing negotiations between the EU and Azerbaijan on a new comprehensive Agreement.
The declaration also reminds that the new agenda for the Eastern Partnership ‘Recovery, Resilience and Reform’ is structured around the two pillars of governance and investment. This agenda will be underpinned by the €2.3 billion regional Economic and Investment Plan with a potential to mobilise up to €17 billion in public and private investments for the region.
The Summit participants stressed that they look forward to the next Eastern Partnership Summit in 2023, which will be “the first milestone for the evaluation and review of the implementation of the new generation of priorities and targets.”