Multistakeholderism in a (foreign) context – what does it take to succeed? The case of the Georgian Domestic Advisory Group in the framework of the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement

3 Dec 2019 10:00
3 Dec 2019 12:00

Venue: Pleinlaan 5, Institute for European Studies, room KANT (1 floor)



Participation of civil society and other stakeholders in the EU’s trade policy has been the subject of numerous recent books and articles. While some of these accounts stress the increased legitimacy and effectiveness brought by multistakeholder mechanisms established in the framework of free trade agreements, others are sceptical. Most research so far focuses on the EU and European stakeholders, not on its partner countries which have their own multistakeholder mechanisms. Moreover, the extant analysis is rarely taking a critical approach to analyse the inclusiveness, legitimacy and effectiveness of these mechanisms, rather focusing on the “surface level” of direct interaction between select stakeholders and the EU.

The (draft) study presented here is a result of Diana Potjomkina’s two months-long fieldwork in Georgia conducted in spring-summer 2019. It is based on 54 semi-structured interviews with of diverse civil society actors both from Tbilisi and Georgian regions, international donors and other stakeholders, as well as representatives of Georgian state institutions, as well as participant observation and document analysis. Adopting the perspective of critical institutionalism, Diana looks into the functioning of the Georgian Domestic Advisory Group (DAG) – the main multistakeholder mechanism established in the country in the framework of the EU-Georgia Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). The study embeds the DAG into the broader context of state-society relations in Georgia and problematizes certain assumptions which the EU made when foreseeing the creation of such mechanism in the DCFTA.

The research shows how the operation of the Georgian DAG – a seemingly inclusive consultation mechanism with a direct link to the policy-makers – has been profoundly affected by the diverse existing power relations and institutional constraints existing in the country. It demonstrates that a simple “copy-paste” of a multistakeholder format from the European Union into Georgian realities may give rise to creation of a weak, insufficiently inclusive mechanism which does little to remedy structural inequalities and disadvantages that some Georgian stakeholders are facing. For a multitude of reasons, the DAG has not become an inclusive channel for an efficient and substantive advocacy of broader Georgian society’s concerns related to trade.


Presenter: Diana Potjomkina, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Ghent University, United Nations University – CRIS

Discussant: Ferran Davesa, Institute for European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Participation is free of charge, but due to room limitations, please register here. Coffee and cookies will be provided.