On August 18, 2019, TVM News published an article titled “What Truly is the EU and Should we Become its Members”. The article notes that media outlets and political elites propagate the EU membership. According to the author, the country, in case it becomes a member state of the EU, will remain only 25% free, as it should subject itself to the EU law which is equivalent to losing 75% of sovereignty. The author also mentions that Georgia will not witness additional economic benefit from the EU membership, meaning that Georgia should not thrive towards it. The article comes with an illustration showing the Tower of Babel and the EU Parliament building next to each other. The article was published on the website by Giorgi Prangishvili, however, the bottom of the article reads “Tornike Bedianashvili. Gorgasaliani”.
Facebook pages - TVM-news.TV,real and სტალინი (Stalin) shared the given article.
TVM.ge article voices its dissent towards Georgia potentially becoming an EU member state and through manipulative information on sovereignty and economic benefit tries to sow nihilism among its readers towards Georgia’s pro-European course.
Prerequisites for the EU Membership
First of all, aspiring EU members should fulfill main criteria. These criteria, known as “the Copenhagen criteria”, were formulated in Copenhagen in 1993. Aspiring countries should have:
Stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, respect for and protection of minorities;
Functional market economy as well as the capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union;
Ability to take on the obligations of membership including adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union.
The candidate country status and the term of applying EU rules are subject to negotiations. These rules are divided into 35 spheres such as agriculture, environment, energy etc. Negotiations in each sphere progress independently from the progress in the other spheres. Also subject to negotiations are the financial agreements on the amount to be paid or received by the new member country from the budget and the transition agreements – when a new rule requires a gradual introduction and the new member is given time to adapt to it.
European Parliament is the only international organization whose members are elected via direct and universal ballot. It is a legislative body of the European Union and is directly elected every five years by the citizens of the 28 member countries of the EU to carry out their interests.
According to the Article 12 of the Treaty on European Union, the legal bill presented by the European Commission to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union should be sent out to the national parliaments, too. In case of a disagreement, in accordance to an early warning principle, national parliament can express its position to any specific legal act. Such setting provides for a better capacity to solve problematic issues on national, regional, and local levels.
It is through strengthening the representative democracy that the Lisbon Treaty tries to bring the EU and its citizens closer. A clear example of an increase in participatory democracy is the Article 11.4 of the Treaty on European Union on citizen initiative envisaging a submission of any legal proposal the citizens deem to be necessary.
EU Membership and Economy
The message that the EU membership does not bring economic benefit and/or destroys country’s economy has been disseminated by pro-Kremlin actors for years and mostly aims to portray the lack of economic benefits from the economic integration of the Baltic and Eastern European countries with the European Union.
Professor of Brunel University London, Nauro Campos studied the economic benefit of the EU membership based on the 1980 and 2004 EU enlargement data. According to the study, despite country differences, data shows that the EU membership was beneficial under any circumstances except in the case of Greece, which author attributes to unexpectedness of opening an incompetent market and delayed structural reforms.
Diagrams below show GDP per capita (black line) and expected GDP per capita under the scenario when a country would not have become an EU member (red line). The blue dotted vertical line shows the date of becoming an EU member. As the diagrams show, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia benefitted more from the EU membership than they would have benefitted from not being a member.
Of all post-Soviet countries, only Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia became members of the EU. Between becoming an EU member (2004) and 2015, GDP of the Baltic countries increased unprecedentedly. For instance, Estonia’s GDP increased by nearly 93%, Lithuania’s – by 111%, and Latvia’s – by 115%.
Since 2004, unemployment rate in the Baltic countries decreased significantly. For example, if in 2004 in Lithuania the unemployment rate was nearly 13%, this figure was equal to 4.25% until the 2008 global economic crisis.
According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index by Transparency International, the Baltic countries have the lowest corruption level among all post-Soviet countries.
According to the Heritage Foundation’s 2019 Index of Economic Freedom, from the post-Soviet countries, only Georgia is in the list of mostly free countries together with the Baltic Countries. Estonia is 15th, Lithuania – 21st, and Latvia – 35th.
In 2017, Nana Devdariani, the Head of the Global Studies Center, and Gia Areshidze, a host at TV Obiektivi, were disseminating messages regarding the alleged non-democratic nature of the EU institutions. You can read about it in details in earlier publications of Myth Detector. Myths about Baltic countries’ economic collapse have also been disseminated.
Section “About Us” at TVM News reads that the website appeared on the Internet in 2013, however, according to registrator.ge, the webpage was registered in 2015. The section mentions journalist Tamta Dadesheli as the Admin-Editor and Giorgi Prangishvili as the Editor of Socio-Political Blog. It also reads that the edition works based on the principles of press freedom and does not represent interests of any political actor. Lastly, the section mentions that the authors are responsible for all their materials published on the portal.
The outlet publishes materials from the anti-Western and pro-Russian edition – Georgia and the World.
Archive link to the TVM.ge article.