Sunday

24th Jun 2018

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

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... our join 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.

Opinion

Appeasement will not work with Erdogan

As EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker meet president Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Bulgaria, their reluctance to use their diminishing leverage with Ankara means his dismantling of Turkey's democracy only speeds up.

News in Brief

  1. Venice Commission: Hungary should repeal NGO law
  2. Trump threatens to slap 20 percent tariff on EU cars
  3. EU closes deficit procedure against France
  4. Romania's ruling party leader gets jail sentence
  5. EU states defer individual decisions on asylum reforms
  6. Commission opens case on Qatar gas flow
  7. EU adopts posted workers directive
  8. EU leaders to call for 'coordinated plan' on AI

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMHRMI Launches Lawsuits Against Individuals and Countries Involved in Changing Macedonia's Name
  3. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  4. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  10. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  11. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network

Latest News

  1. Migration row at centre of EU summit This Week
  2. Merkel's woes cast shadow on EU's future
  3. Europe's tech race - trying to keep pace with US and China
  4. Merkel and Juncker's mini-summit risks fiasco
  5. Greece and creditors proclaim 'end of crisis'
  6. How a US firm pushed for EU €2.1trn pension fund
  7. Commission defends Africa migrant plan ahead of summit
  8. Bavaria hijacks EU migration talks

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  2. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  4. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  5. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  6. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  7. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  9. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  10. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  12. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us