Following the adoption of the internationally criticized law restricting foreign influence on civil society in Georgia, EU leaders have called on Tbilisi to withdraw the law. “The adoption of this law has a negative impact on Georgia’s progress towards the EU,” Foreign Affairs Officer Josep Borrell and Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

The decision on the way forward lies in Georgia’s hands. “We urge the Georgian authorities to withdraw the law, maintain their commitment to EU accession and advance the necessary reforms outlined in the nine steps.”

Georgia has had candidate status in the EU since the end of last year. According to the communication, the EU states granted Georgia this status on the condition that the country implements the nine steps from a Commission recommendation. This includes, among other things, human rights being protected and civil society and the media being able to act freely.

Despite weeks of mass protests, the governing majority of the Georgian Dream party approved the law on Tuesday that is intended to limit foreign influence on non-governmental organizations. Accountability will be tightened for aid organizations and independent media that receive more than 20 percent of their money from abroad. The justification is that more transparency is needed.

However, hundreds of thousands of opponents of the regulation, dubbed “Russian law,” fear that, like in Russia, critical organizations will be silenced. With the authoritarian course of the Georgian Dream party, they see the ex-Soviet republic’s desired EU accession at risk.

After the law was passed in parliament, mass protests from the population continued. According to media reports, thousands of people took to the streets in the capital Tbilisi again on Tuesday evening.