21st Jul 2019

Turkey ready for membership talks, says Commission

The European Commission has said Turkey is ready to start EU membership negotiations.

But there was some qualification to Brussels' "yes".

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  • Turkey - it's a yes, but a qualified yes. (Photo: EUobserver)

"It is a qualified yes that is accompanied by a large number of recommendations on following up and monitoring the situation in Turkey", said Commission President Romano Prodi, announcing the decision.

In a long awaited report, published today (6 October), the Commission judges Turkish reforms to be enough to recommend starting accession talks.

But it also recommends restrictions on freedom of movement for Turks hoping to move to the EU and a clause saying talks will be stopped if progress is not made in certain areas.

"The Commission considers that Turkey sufficiently fulfils the political criteria and recommends that accession negotiations be opened", reads the report.

The verdict means that Turkey is likely to begin talks in 2005, although no date has yet been set.

EU member states will have the final word when they meet in December, but few expect them to overturn the Commission’s recommendations.

However, there is some work yet for Ankara.

The report also recommends that safeguards be put in place to ensure that Turkish reforms continue. Mr Prodi said, "we have to make sure that all these reforms become a fact of daily life".

Long wait

Today’s report follows almost two decades of hand-wringing on the part of the EU and massive reforms inside Turkey.

Turkey applied for full membership of the EU in 1987, then known as the EEC.

A bloody struggle with Kurdish insurgents and a military coup made EU membership unthinkable until only a few years ago.

But since coming to power in 2002 the AK Party has introduced wave after wave of reforms, although implementation is still ongoing in many areas.

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