sexta-feira, 27 de novembro de 2015
EU set to re-open Turkey talks
EU set to re-open Turkey talks
Draft conclusions show what leaders are prepared to do for a deal on refugees.
By JACOPO BARIGAZZI 11/27/15, 7:25 PM CET
The EU is set to agree to re-start talks on Turkey’s application to join the Union in exchange for securing Ankara’s cooperation in stemming the flow of refugees from the Middle East to Europe, according to draft conclusions being prepared ahead of a special summit on Sunday.
According to the conclusions, a copy of which was obtained by POLITICO, the EU and Turkey would open negotiations in early 2016 on several new areas of the accession process, including energy, judiciary and fundamental rights, justice freedom and security, and foreign, security and defense policy.
Before any country can join the EU, it must meet legal requirements on several so-called “chapters,” each of which requires significant negotiation. In the case of Turkey there are 33 chapters to negotiate, of which so far only 14 have been opened and one has been closed.
Turkey’s bid to join the Union has been stalled for years over a variety of political concerns, and diplomats said there will still be significant hesitation about promising Ankara too much. But since the refugee crisis began escalating, getting Turkish cooperation has been seen as crucial to keeping refugees in the region by making conditions there better.
The summit on Sunday will see all 28 European leaders meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to approve and implement an action plan to cope with the refugee crisis. The deal includes a payment of €3 billion from the EU to Turkey to help it cope with the huge numbers of Syrian refugees currently in the country.
If the conclusions are adopted as drafted on Sunday, EU leaders will also announce that on December 14 member states could open talks on further economic integration between the bloc and Turkey.
Another potential roadblock to the opening of new negotiation chapters is the situation in Cyprus. The eastern Mediterranean island has blocked Turkey’s accession talks for several years, citing the presence of Turkish troops in the breakaway north of the island. Last month the Cyprus government publicly reiterated its opposition to opening talks on chapters relating to the rule of law.
The draft statement from EU leaders, if agreed, holds out the possibility that preparatory work “could subsequently begin also on further chapters.” It also says these new chapters could be opened “without prejudice to the position of member states.”
The document makes other commitments in exchange for Turkey’s help: on visa liberalization for Turkish citizens traveling to the EU; on readmission of illegal migrants that can be returned to Turkey; and on financial aid in the fight against terrorism. It also promises regular meetings between EU and Turkish authorities.
The €3 billion in financial help for Turkey was originally proposed by the European Commission as part of its action plan on stepping up cooperation with Ankara on refugees. The draft statement shows that EU leaders will agree to the amount, but leaves open the question of whether it will be a one-off payment or whether more money will be needed later on. It also does not specify whether the funds will come from the EU budget or from member countries.
“There is not a consensus on this yet,” said an EU diplomat. “The Commission has made its proposal but there’s an ongoing discussion on this.”
Under the Commission’s proposal, even Cyprus would contribute to funds for Turkey — a point that diplomats said is considered problematic.
Diplomats involved in pre-summit talks said it was being made clear that Turkey would have to agree to re-admit illegal migrants if they want to make progress on the visa liberalization issue. According to the draft conclusions, the Commission will present its second progress report on the implementation by Turkey of the visa liberalization roadmap “by early March 2016.”
If the language is approved by leaders Sunday, both sides agree “that the EU-Turkey readmission agreement will become fully applicable from June 2016” in order for the Commission to be able to present its third progress report in autumn 2016. The aim is to complete the visa liberalization process, which means the lifting of visa requirements for Turkish citizens in the Schengen zone, “by October 2016.”
With the implementation of the action plan, agreed last month between Brussels and Ankara, both sides will step up their active cooperation on migrants who are not in need of international protection, “preventing travel to Turkey and the EU, ensuring the application of the established bilateral readmission provisions and swiftly returning” illegal migrants to their countries of origin.
Both EU and Turkish leaders will also agree to have “regular summits twice a year,” according to the draft document, with “regular discussions and cooperation on foreign and security policy.”
Still under discussion is the question of whether to invite Turkey to all EU summits, a practice Europe used to have with countries involved in accession talks. The sticking point is over whether to invite only Turkey or also other countries involved in accession processes, an EU official said.
There’s also another question regarding Sunday’s summit: over whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will take part. Currently only Davutoğlu is scheduled to come to Brussels, but one diplomat said Erdoğan “can decide until the last minute and it would be better to have him here, it would be a further sign of Turkish commitment.”