European Integration

Myth: EU integration will impoverish us

16 February, 2017

Georgian media periodically spreads information, that Georgia’s integration in the EU may result in the deterioration of the economic situation. To illustrate this, they often cite the example of the Baltic states, as if after the Euro-Atlantic integration they have suffered from a significant economic harm and they lag behind all other European countries by development level. One such kind of misinformation was released by Jondi Bagaturia, the chairmain of ‘Qartuli Dasi’ in the isuue of 6-12 February of the newspaper "Alia".

Jondi Baghaturia, Qartuli Dasi: "The economy will recede even further, the social environment will, therefore, decline, until the Georgian political spectrum will come to it’s senses and change course in foreign policy."

Similar information was asserted in "Asaval-dasavali" issue of the 6-12 February, where in an article journalist Giorgi Gigauri argued that the Baltic countries are considered as an auxiliary and a second-class suburb to European countries.

Myth Detector will provide factual information, which indicates that these claims are misleading.

Economy

  • No country became poorer than it was after its accession in the EU.
  • Only in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia joined the European Union from post-Soviet countries. After their accession to the European Union in 2004, til 2015 the Baltic countries’ GDP expanded at a record level. For example, about 93% increase in Estonia, 111% in Lithuania and 115% in Latvia.
  • After the accession in the EU, agricultural production of the three countries has boosted : in Estonia by 62.5%, Latvia 58% and Lithuania 36%.
  • After 2004 , all three Baltic countries have significantly reduced their level of unemployment. For example, if in 2004 the unemployment rate was 10% in Estonia, in 2008 before the world economic crisis, this number dropped to 4.7%.
  • According to "Transparency International" Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, the lowest figure of corruption in the former Soviet countries, comes in the Baltic states. Estonia's corruption index is almost equal to such countries as Austria, Croatia, Japan and the US.
  • Going by The Heritage-'s economic freedom index, the Baltic countries go into the ‘Mostly Free’ category, with only Georgia included from the post-Soviet region. Estonia is in the top ten, while Lithuania is in 13th place and ahead of such countries as the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland and the rest of the post-Soviet countries.
  • Following IMF-'s 2016 data, Lithuania’s and Estonia's GDP per capita is above those of Central European countries such as Poland, Hungary and Croatia. At the same time, in addition of Latvia are ahead of Portugal, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria.
  • Pursuant to the World Bank estimates of 2015, Latvia's GDP growth (2.7%) is ahead of Slovenia (2.3%), the Netherlands (2%), Germany (1, 7%). Lithuania's GDP growth (1.6%) is equal to the rate of growth in Norway and ahead of Portugal's figure (1.5%). As for Estonia (1.4%), behind it is France (1.3%), Denmark (1%), Italy (0.7%) and Finland (0.2%).

Politics

Each EU member country equally participates in the political process of the European Union:

  • The presidency of the Council of the European Union is rotational and the EU countries lead it by 6 month terms. The principle of rotation provides for each member country equal participation. In the period of July-December 2017, the Council will be chaired by Estonia.
  • In the European Parliament Latvia holds 12 seats same number as Ireland and Croatia, while ahead of Slovenia, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta. Estonia and Lithuania hold 6 seats each.
  • In the European Commission Latvia and Lithuania, as well as Sweden, Austria, Romania and Cyprus have 3 Commissioners, while Estonia has 2, which is equal to Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria.