Saturday

10th Apr 2021

Merkel pushes for Turkey EU membership talks

  • "Germany is ready to give support," to Turkish demands, Merkel (l) said after meeting Erdogan (r) (Photo: Turkish presidency)

German chancellor Angela Merkel gave her support on Sunday (18 October) to a new start in EU-Turkey membership talks.

"How can we organise the accession process more dynamically?" Merkel asked, after talks in Istanbul with Turkey's prime minister Ahmed Davutoglu and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

"Germany is ready this year to open chapter 17, and make preparations for (chapters) 23 and 24," she said, referring to the chapter of the community acquis on economic and monetary policy, and the two chapters on justice, security and fundamental rights.

"We can talk about the details," she added.

In a TV Interview on 7 October, Merkel said she was opposed to Turkey becoming a member of the EU. "Erdogan knows this," she said.

In Istanbul on Sunday, she said "Turkey's full membership is an open-ended issue."

Burden

Merkel was in Turkey to discuss the war in Syria, the fight against terrorism and the issue of refugees living in Turkey and coming to Europe.

"The chancellor said that Turkey must be helped when it comes to burden sharing, because Turkey has carried a large part of the burden," Erdogan said.

Restarting accession talks is one of the conditions Turkey presented last week to agree to a common action plan with the EU to tackle the migrant crisis.

The action plan includes measures to strengthen the control of Turkey's border with the EU and facilitate returns of unwanted migrants to Turkey, as well as aids to help Turkey handle the 2.5 million refugees living on its territory.

Turkey also demanded a liberalisation of the visa regime in 2016 for Turks coming to the EU, a €3 billion aid package and a participation of Turkish leaders in EU summits.

"There are four elements. Germany is ready to give support on these issues," Merkel said in Istanbul.

At an EU summit last Thursday (15 October), EU leaders endorsed the common action plan and said that "successful implementation [would] contribute to accelerating the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap". They said "progress will be assessed in spring 2016".

EU leaders did not commit to give the €3 billion requested by Turkey because they are unsure where the money would come from. While Angela Merkel said that "the EU Commission cannot do it alone with the EU budget", a top official told reporters that the money would have to come from member states.

The most symbolic issue is EU membership negotiations. Talks opened in 2006 but no new chapters have been opened since 2013.

In last year's report on Turkey's progress, the EU Commission observed "once again sharp contrasts" and said "further significant progress is needed on judiciary and fundamental rights" in particular.

In the conclusions of the EU summit last week, EU leaders said that "the accession process needs to be re-energised with a view to achieving progress in the negotiations".

A chapter this year

In June, the Commission recommended opening chapter 17 on economic and monetary policy. The decision has to be taken formally by member states.

Merkel said on Sunday that the chapter could be open before the end of the year.

Chapters 23 and 24 on justice and fundamental rights are more controversial and could prove more difficult to open.

The part concerning these chapters was one of the most critical in last year's Commission report.

"Priorities for Turkey will be to promote dialogue across the political spectrum and society more broadly, to reinvigorate its rule of law reform efforts and to pay particular attention to the respect of fundamental rights in law and in practice," the Commission said.

The publication of this year's report, which is due at this time of the year, has been delayed. The Commission says it is because the focus is now on migration and that the report will be published soon. But there are some concerns that the report is being watered down as part of negotiations to get Turkey's help.

Opening chapters 23 and 24 could be opposed by some member states. Cyprus has already indicated it considers them as a red line.

EU courts Turkey ahead of summit

EU leaders will discuss ways to get Turkey's help on stemming the flow of refugees at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Turkey raises price on EU refugee deal

Turkey seeking €3 billion a year in EU aid and visa-free travel, as institutions court Ankara on refugees, including by delay of critical report, now leaked, until after elections.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

News in Brief

  1. Turkey blames EU for sexist protocol fiasco
  2. France to close elite civil-service academy
  3. Covid-19 cases in UK drop 60%, study finds
  4. White House urges 'calm' after Northern Ireland riots
  5. Italy's Draghi calls Turkey's Erdoğan a 'dictator'
  6. Slovakia told to return Sputnik V amid quality row
  7. EU risks €87bn in stranded fossil fuel assets
  8. Obligatory vaccination not against human rights, European court says

Opinion

Montenegro's membership can inspire the European Dream

Today (15 December) I come to Brussels with a simple purpose: to present the credentials of my country, Montenegro, to become the next member state of the European Union, writes prime minister Zdravko Krivokapic.

Interview

Does North Macedonia really exist?

Its language and history give North Macedonia its identity for president Stevo Pendarovski, but, for Bulgaria, neither of them are real, in a dispute holding up EU enlargement.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. The Covid bell tolls for eastern Europe's populists
  2. Four deaths after taking Russian Sputnik V vaccine
  3. Post-Brexit riots flare up in Northern Ireland
  4. Advice on AstraZeneca varies across EU, amid blood clot fears
  5. Greenland election could see halt to rare-earth mining
  6. After 50 years, where do Roma rights stand now?
  7. Why Iran desperately wants a new nuclear deal
  8. Does new EU-ACP deal really 'decolonise' aid?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us