Thursday

2nd Apr 2020

France ready to unblock EU-Turkey talks

  • Turkey has been in EU membership talks since 2005 (Photo: svenwerk)

France wants to "give a new impetus" to Turkey's EU membership talks, allowing negotiations to resume this week after a break of almost three years.

"We are favourable to the idea of opening talks on what is called chapter 22," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on Tuesday (12 February) in Paris after meeting his Turkish counterpart on the margins of a conference on Libya.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

A spokesman for the foreign ministry later the same day confirmed that France, a long-term opponent of Turkish EU accession, has had a change of heart and wants to "give a new impetus to EU-Turkey relations."

He said Paris also expects Ankara to "contribute concretely to this dynamic."

Turkey began its EU accession process back in 1963 with a tailor-made "association agreement."

It formally applied to join in 1987 and started accession talks in 2005.

But the negotiations stalled three years ago, in part due to Cyprus' complaint that Turkish soldiers continue to occupy the north part of the island.

France has also proved hesitant to opening new areas in the negotiations, however - out of the 35 so-called chapters, just one has been concluded so far.

France's former President, Nicolas Sarkozy had openly said that Turkey should never get into the EU.

For her part, German Chancellor Angela Merkel still shares Sarkozy's view, but she says her government will not block Turkey's membership talks as such.

The impasse has prompted frequent complaints from Ankara.

In its latest salvo, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week said on TV that he might join the Shanghai Co-operation Organization, a multilateral Asian body, instead of the Union.

For his part, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele welcomed the French development.

"France's signal of readiness for the EU to restart discussions on regional policy with Turkey adds to momentum to make 2013 a turning point in our relations," he tweeted.

Technical talks on chapter 22, which deals with regional aid and how to align Turkey's legislation to EU rules in this field, are expected to start later this week. But first, the Irish EU presidency needs to get the consensus of all the other member states to move ahead.

Meanwhile, Cyprus is also expected to soften its stance if presidential elections on Sunday put a new administration in power.

Turkey will also need to move, however.

The EU wants it to open access to its ports and airports for Cypriot vessels and airlines.

Concerns over Turkish human rights abuses, the role of the military in Turkish politics and internal conflicts with the Kurdish minority in Turkey are also irritants in EU-Turkish relations.

EU to publish new enlargement method

EU hopefuls will know more about the hoops they will have to jump through in future when the European Commission publishes its new "enlargement methodology" this week.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking Europe’s Economy Circular – the time is now
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersScottish parliament seeks closer collaboration with the Nordic Council
  3. UNESDAFrom Linear to Circular – check out UNESDA's new blog
  4. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms

Latest News

  1. Court: Three countries broke EU law on migrant relocation
  2. Journalism hit hard by corona crisis
  3. EU fighting shortages and faulty medical supplies
  4. New EU navy operation to keep migrant details secret
  5. MEP: Constituents are our window into this tragedy
  6. Without European patriotism, EU decline is inevitable
  7. EU cancels April Fool's 'fake news'
  8. A coronavirus 'Marshall Plan' alone won't be nearly enough

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us