Talks with Turkey have reached "more demanding stage" EU
Dec 14, 2010 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Dec 14, 2010 12:00 am
European Union ministers are poised to acknowledge that accession talks with Turkey "have reached a more demanding stage," draft papers showed on Tuesday, in recognition of the blockages that are preventing the negotiations from advancing.
Countries which apply for EU membership have to bring their laws into line with EU rules in 35 areas, or "chapters." Since Turkey began accession talks in October 2005, it has opened talks on 13 chapters, adding at least one to the list every six months.
But diplomats say the current semester will end in December with no progress, because the foreseen opening of a chapter on competition law was postponed because Turkey had not made enough technical progress on the so-called "benchmarks" needed to open it.
EU ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday are expected to reassure Turkey it had made "good progress" on the dossier and that "as soon as all the benchmarks are met (they) will revert to this chapter in view of its opening," according to the draft papers.
However, bigger political obstacles lie in Turkey's EU path.
Eight chapters have been frozen by the EU because of Turkey's long-simmering conflict with Cyprus, with the island nation having informally blocked another six. On top of that, France is preventing advances on another handful out of opposition to Turkey's EU entry.