Sunday

14th Aug 2022

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.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us