BRUSSELS -- The European Union is set to launch free trade negotiations with Georgia and Moldova this week.
The EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht is traveling to Moldova on February 27 to confirm the parameters of the negotiations with Prime Minister Vladimir Filat and will then travel to Georgia a day later with the Prime Minister of Georgia, Nika Gilauri.
The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas (DCFTAs) -- the term used to refer to free-trade arrangements -- will replace the Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (PCA) struck with the two countries in the late 1990s, which have regulated trade between the two blocs until now.
The DCFTAs will make legislation in the two countries more compatible with EU legislation in trade-related areas and will update laws concerning government procurement and intellectual property rights.
It is also hoped the arrangement will enable EU countries to increase their exports to the two countries and that Moldovan and Georgian products, mainly from the agricultural sector, can be sold in the EU.
Eliminating Red Tape
De Gucht told RFE/RL that the he hopes that an agreement could lead to less bureaucracy.
"Once you have legislation that is compatible and, in a number of cases they will even be identical, it means that you are eliminating red tape so that you really can do business," he said,. "That is what we want to do."
The DCFTAs are part of wider Association Agreements which have been negotiated with the two countries since 2010 with the objective of deepening political links and economic integration with six countries in the EU's eastern neighborhood.
Ukraine is the only country in the region that has completed its DCFTA negotiations with the EU.
The 20th and final round was completed in the autumn of 2011 -- three years after it was initiated.
The first negotiation rounds are scheduled for 19-23 March 2012 with Moldova and 26-30 March 2012 with Georgia.