Sunday

23rd Sep 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.

... or 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

EU should brace for a more authoritarian Erdogan

The new blend of religious nationalism will be more anti-West and anti-EU, as Brussels has anything but leverage on Turkey. The first signs of this strong rhetoric are already visible.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK
  2. Wake-up call on European Day Against Islamophobia
  3. Sound of discord at 'Sound of Music' Salzburg summit
  4. Salzburg summit presses for bigger Frontex mandate
  5. UK's post-Brexit plan 'will not work', EU says
  6. Airbnb agrees to clarify pricing for EU
  7. Libya keeps coast guards rejected by the EU
  8. EU divisions on menu at Salzburg dinner

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us