Sunday

24th Jun 2018

EU courts Turkey ahead of summit

  • Erdogan (l) and Tusk could meet in November for further talks (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

EU leaders will discuss ways to get Turkey's help on stemming the flow of refugees at a summit in Brussels on Thursday (15 October).

“Syria and Turkey are the real topics”, said one diplomat ahead of the EU event.

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

The EU executive is pushing for measures that can act as an incentive for Turkey, a main entry point for migrants and refugees escaping war and destitution, to help out.

“I have no illusions that there will be very difficult bargaining with Turkey”, said an EU official.

EU Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and the Commissioner for neighborhood policy, Johannes Hahn, left for Ankara on Wednesday in an effort to speed up high-level talks on cooperation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is paying a visit on Sunday.

Before leaving, Timmermans said he'll report back to EU leaders on Thursday to what extent he can come to agreement with the Turkish side on elements of an EU action plan.

The plan is a list of measures, drafted by the Commission, which range from supporting refugee camps in Turkey to better border control.

“I do see a reason to intensify a dialogue with Turkey on issues that perhaps should have been moved forward more rapidly in the past", Timmermans said.

However, Turkey has so far showed little enthusiasm for the proposals.

More important issues for Turkey are visa liberalisation and opening up new chapters in EU accession talks.

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that he would like to see visa-free arrangements for Turkish business travellers, and to expand the measure from there.

“I think we need to speed up the visa liberalisation process", he said.

The draft conclusions of Thursday’s summit also foresee a speedy visa process if Turkey steps up help on migrants.

Juncker commended Turkey for being open to joining joint surveillance of the sea between Greece and Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of refugees cross into Europe on dinghies.

He called on the Greeks, who so far been reluctant, to join the effort.

The Commission president also said Turkey should be included in the list of "safe" countries, whose nationals would then have little chance of being granted asylum in Europe.

He highlighted that Turkey is the only EU candidate country not on the list.

Germany has opposed including Turkey on the list due to human rights concerns.

On Monday, a senior government official signalled, according to Reuters, that Berlin might be willing to drop its opposition. But no decision is expected on Thursday.

In other efforts, the Commission has postponed, by one week, its annual assessment of EU candidate countries' reforms.

“It was deliberately postponed not to get on the nerves of Turkey, as it was a very critical report", said one EU diplomat.

Juncker said on Wednesday the EU is willing to open new chapters in the accession talks.

But one issue on Turkey's wish list - EU support for the creation of safe zones inside Syria - has become increasingly complicated due to Russia's bombing campaign.

Turkish PM Ahmet Davutoglu has written to EU capitals saying if there are no safe zones and if fighting escalates then many more refugees are likely to come.

The EU leaders will discuss the idea.

But EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini, earlier this week, said there's little prospect of going ahead.

She cited Europe's negative experience in the Western Balkan wars, where a "safe" zone in Bosnia, which wasn't properly enforced, ended in the Srebrenica genocide.

The US, which would have to enforce security, is equally lukewarm.

For their part, EU Council chief Donald Tusk and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met in Brussels 10 days ago, are considering holding another summit in November, after Turkish elections.

But EU sources note that geopolitics, rather than bilateral ties, are becoming more relevant on the dossier.

"Peace in Europe depends on the situation outside of Europe, meaning foreign policy is more important than before, and this translates to questions whether Turkey is a safe country or not", one EU official said.

Turkey targets Kurdish rebels after bomb attack

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebel targets after the bomb attack over the weekend in Ankara, for which the government blames Islamic State. Ankara vows elections on 1 November will go ahead.

EU unveils Turkey migration plan

The Commission has unveiled a plan on how to stem the flow of migrants from Turkey, including extra funds and a joint crackdown on smugglers.

Opinion

Fate of EU refugee deal hangs in the balance

Europe's choice is between unplanned, reactive, fragmented, ineffective migration policy and planned, regulated, documented movements of people, writes International Rescue Committee chief David Miliband.

Opinion

EU summit: migrants get a 'vote' too

Non-citizens from Nigeria to Afghanistan get a binding 'vote' on whatever the EU's internal debates submit to them. They will vote with their feet on whether to keep trying their luck when faced with a new system.

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