21st Jul 2019

EU set to respect commitments to Turkey

The European Commission is set to approve a framework for negotiations with Turkey today, reaffirming commitments already taken towards the country.

According to the document, which constitutes the main guiding principles on which accession talks will be started, the goal remains full membership - not to occur before 2014 though, Reuters reports.

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It is to reiterate the decisions taken by the European Council in December last year, when member states agreed that Turkey had fulfilled the necessary criteria to start negotiations on 3 October.

But they also said that the talks - with any country- "are an open-ended process, the outcome of which cannot be guaranteed beforehand".

On top of that, "long transition periods, derogations, specific arrangements or permanent safeguard clauses" may be considered, regarding freedom of movement or persons, for instance, according to commitments taken in December.

After the European Commission agrees on the document, member states will have to approve it by unanimity.

As the framework constitutes an EU common position of the EU, governments could still modify it and make it difficult to start negotiations on time.

Tougher language

Some countries - particularly Austria and France - are likely to want to make the language tougher or at least make it clearer that an outcome other than full membership may be the end result.

French president Jacques Chirac himself, who used to publicly support Turkey's EU bid before the French rejected the EU constitution, has since questioned the EU's ability to expand further, in what appeared to be a clear reference to Turkey.

But if EU members approve the text, and provided that Ankara signs a protocol extending a customs agreement it has with the EU to the ten new member states, including Cyprus, accession talks should start on time.

On top of this, the fact that the UK, a staunch supporter of Turkey's EU membership, will hold the EU's rotating presidency when Ankara is set to start negotiating, is a positive factor for the Euro-Asian country.

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