EU-Georgia Association Agreement pledges to boost capacity in science and statistics

Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus, may see an increase in its science and statistical capacity if the pledges made today (27 June) in the Association Agreement signed between it and the European Union are fulfilled.

The EU signed the agreements with Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine, promising wide-ranging cooperation on science with Ukraine, for example.

Chapter 12 in the part of the agreement with Georgia on ‘Other cooperation policies‘ says the EU and Georgia “shall promote cooperation in all areas of civil scientific research and technological development and demonstration (RTD) on the basis of mutual benefit”.

This will cover policy dialogue, the exchange of scientific and technological information, increasing research capacity, and the participation of Georgian research entities in the research Framework Programme (FP) of the EU.

This last seems especially important, given that Georgia holds only three FP7 projects – all in the capacity building part of the programme – and no prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grants, according to EU websites.

The agreement will also help promote joint research projects; training and mobility programmes for scientific staff; facilitate the free movement of researchers and the cross-border movement of research goods.

The agreement does not seem to specify any funds for this agreement, but it adds that in carrying out such cooperation, synergies should be sought with the other activities carried out within the framework of financial cooperation between the EU and Georgia.

Georgia, a country of just over 4 million people on the Black Sea, invested only 0.18% of its GDP into research and development in 2005, the last year for which data is available on UNESCO’s Office for Statistics website. And it had just over 8,100 researchers, mostly working in natural sciences, but also in engineering and technology, agricultural and medical sciences.

Building capacity and quality of stats

The association agreement also promises to “develop and strengthen their cooperation on statistical issues, thereby contributing to the long-term objective of providing timely, internationally comparable and reliable statistical data”.

“It is expected that a sustainable, efficient and professionally independent national statistical system shall produce information relevant for citizens, businesses and decision-makers in Georgia and in the EU, enabling them to take informed decisions on this basis,” it says. “The national statistical system should respect the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics, taking into account the EU acquis in statistics, including the European Statistics Code of Practice, in order to align the national statistical system with the European norms and standards.”

The cooperation will work to strengthen the capacity of the national statistical system, and align it with the European Statistical System, among other things. It will also enhance the professional and management capacity of the national statistical staff, it says, and help in exchanging experience on the development of statistical know-how and promoting quality control.

The cooperation will take place within the framework of the European Statistical System and will include a focus on macroeconomic, demographic, agricultural and business statistics.

Mićo Tatalović

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