Recently Georgia signed Association Agreement with EU, which includes Free Trade Agreement with the EU as well. Georgian Politicians were so happy, that they rushed to announce some great plans - and so the MP of Georgia announced, that Georgia is eager to have full EU membership in the next 5-10 years.
So far so good.
On the other hand, the newly elected president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker has already announced, that he is not willing to see any enlargement in European Union for the next 5 years, mainly because none of the existing candidate's countries could fulfill the requirements to join EU in next 5 years.
Since Georgia is not even a candidate country for full EU membership - it's hard to believe that Georgia could join in the next 5 years.
So it might be 10 years then? 10 years sounds more realistic, but again, I'm not so sure regarding this also.
My understanding is that Georgia one day might become a member of the EU is only after or together when Turkey will join the EU (if that gonna happen at all).
Now, since I'm a more practical guy, liking some real data instead of political/geopolitical speculations, I decided to compare Georgia and EU candidate countries by GDP per capita. Of course, I could compare by GDP as well - but this wouldn't answer on question - of how rich/poor is Georgia compared to other Candidate countries (Please, take in note Georgia is not an EU candidate country yet)
So far EU has 5 candidate countries for full membership in EU - Iceland, Montenegro, Serbia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey.
GDP per Capita in EU candidate countries and Georgia in 2013
As we can see from the chart above - GDP per capita in Georgia in 2013 is still beyond the FYR of Macedonia, standing at $3.602 thousand.
The next move on Georgia's way for Full membership in the EU would be to get an official invitation to be a candidate country, seems Georgia should increase its GDP per capita at least by 25% before Europe could offer such an invitation. Taking into account that GDP annual growth in Georgia for the last 5 years stays at 3.7%, it could take some 5-6 years before Georgia receives such an invitation. Of course, the Georgian economy could develop more intensely, and I believe Georgian politicians believe in that as well.
On the other hand - the newest member of the European Union - Croatia, which joined the EU on July 1st, 2013, had a GDP per capita of $13.159 thousands (2012)
Now, another EU enlargement happened in 2007, when Romania and Bulgaria joined EU, at that time their GDP per capita was about $8.170 thousands and $5.581 respectively. Both of the countries are sometimes refereed as the poorest in EU. GDP per capita in Bulgaria in 2013 was $7.296 thousands while in Romania $9.499.
Another interesting question about future of EU is United Kingdom's planned referendum in 2017 to stay or leave EU (Brits seems are mad of cheap labour force from Eastern European countries)
Anyhow - although membership in large European Union might sound tempeting, the things are not going smoothly there. Let's be honest - it's all about money, economics, production - new markets e.t.c.
Instead of waiting what benefits Georgia could gain after eventually joining EU - Georgia should work things out in it's internal markets, produce more, work less. Wine and mineral waters are great here, but does Georgia produces anything else here?
Returning to the topic of this article - could Georgia join the EU in the next 5-10 years? I doubt that it will happen in the next 5 years, but speaking of 10 years - it might happen. But again - much is dependent on whether will Turkey join or not. I do not believe that Georgia could join the EU without direct borders with it.