Inclusion in EU-Georgia Trade Relations: A Critical Institutionalist Analysis of the Georgian Domestic Advisory Group

Publication Date: 
25 November 2021
Kluwer Law International BV
Publication Language: 
Appearing in: 
European Foreign Affairs Review

This article advances a context-sensitive, critical approach to (1) conceptualizing, (2) assessing and (3) explaining participatory inclusiveness of multistakeholder mechanisms, and applies it to the empirical case of the Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) established in Georgia in the framework of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) with the European Union (EU). Such multistakeholder mechanisms, promoted by the EU, are expected to democratize trade policymaking and refute criticism concerning the negative impact of trade on sustainable development. Our conceptual perspective highlights the importance of not only formal rules, but also micro-level power relations among stakeholders and their ties to macro-level power relations existing in a society, as well as the linkage between social and material sides of power. In our typology, ‘genuine’ multistakeholderism enables just consideration of diverse perspectives through high de jure and de facto horizontal and vertical inclusiveness. Yet our empirical analysis, based on extensive interviews and  secondary sources, exemplifies difficulties in reaching ‘genuine’ inclusiveness. Situating the Georgian DAG in the broader societal context helps explain the low degree of inclusiveness we observe, and lack of significant progress in advancing a genuine multistakeholder debate as well as the trade and sustainable agenda in Georgia. 

Trade, Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, sustainable development, multistakeholderism, civil society, participation, inclusiveness, Georgia, European Union, critical institutionalism