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Information on EU-Turkey relations

1. The accession negotiation process

In 1959 Turkey applied for the first time to join which was then European Economic Community (EEC). The EEC response to Turkey’s application was to suggest the establishment of an association until Turkey’s circumstances permitted to go further in its request for accession (see below the Ankara Association Agreement).

In the beginning of 1980s there was a freeze in Turkish-EEC relations due to the military intervention in Turkey. After the elections in 1983, the relations were re-established and Turkey made a full membership application in 1987. In 1990, the European Council confirmed Turkey’s eligibility for membership.

Turkey was officially recognized as a candidate country, at the Helsinki European Council of December 1999.

Accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU started in October 2005 with the analytical examination of each “chapter” of the acquis communautaire (the so-called screening process). During this screening, the acquis communautaire was explained to Turkey and areas where there may be problems to be addressed were identified by both parties.

The screening is the basis for launching the actual, technical negotiation process. Negotiations take place between the EU Member States and Turkey, at the level of ministers and ambassadors. They focus on the conditions and timing of Turkey's adoption, implementation and enforcement of the so-called “acquis communautaire”. For the purpose of the accession negotiations the acquis communuataire is divided into 35 subject-related chapters.

Since the opening of the accession negotiations, one chapter on Science and Research has been opened and provisionally closed, in June 2006. In addition, negotiations were opened on five chapters: Enterprise and Industry (March 2007), Financial Control and Statistics (June 2007), Company law and Intellectual property law (June 2008).

In December 2006, due to the Turkish failure to apply to Cyprus the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement the Council decided that eight relevant chapters will not be opened and no chapter will be provisionally closed until Turkey has fulfilled its commitment. The eight chapters are: free movement of goods, right of establishment and freedom to provide service, financial services, agriculture and rural development, fisheries, transport policy, customs union and external relations.

Compliance with commitments will be closely monitored throughout the process, and negotiations on any chapter are closed – provisionally - only when all the Member States are satisfied with the Turkey's progress. Definitive closure of negotiations will occur only at the end of the process.

2. The pre-accession strategy

To prepare Turkey for future membership, a pre-accession strategy has been set up. The strategy encompasses the following frameworks and mechanisms:

2.1 The Association Agreement: the legal framework for the relations between the EU and Turkey

The contractual relationship between the EU and Turkey is represented by an Association Agreement.

The Ankara Association Agreement (the “Ankara Agreement”) was signed in 1963 between Turkey and. which was then the EEC. It entered into force on 1 December 1964.

The agreement foresaw in particular the establishment of a customs union which would bring the two sides closer in economic and trade matters.

The main institutions under the Association Agreement are the Association Council  and the Joint Parliamentary Committee - with representatives of the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the European Parliament. The Association Council brings together EU Member State representatives and the Turkish authorities.

The Association agreement was supplemented by an Additional Protocol signed in November 1970, which sets out a timetable for the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods circulating between Turkey and the EEC.

In 1995, Customs Union was established (Turkey – EU Association Council Decision 1/95 of 6 March 1995) which contributed a lot to the trade relations between Turkey and the EU. The Customs Union between the EU and Turkey does not only involve the abolition of all customs duties and charges, prohibition of all quantitative restrictions between the parties and implementation of a common customs tariff to third countries, it requires also Turkey to harmonize its trade and competition policies, including intellectual property laws to those of the EU.

2.2 Progress reports

Since 1998, each year the European Commission assesses Turkey’s progress made over the last twelve months and its readiness to move closer to the European Union in the Annual Progress Reports.

2.3 Accession partnership

The Accession Partnership is one of the key features of the pre-accession strategy.

The Accession Partnership sets out in a single framework the short- and medium-term priority areas for further work identified in the Commission's regular report on the progress made by Turkey towards membership of the European Union, the financial means available to help Turkey implement these priorities and the conditions which will apply to that assistance.

This Accession Partnership is proposed by the European Commission, after consulting Turkey and on the basis of the principles, priorities, intermediate objectives and conditions decided by the Council.

The first Accession Partnership was adopted in 2001. Since then, three new Accession Partnerships were adopted in 2003, 2006, and 2008.
The implementation of the Accession Partnership for Turkey is monitored by the Association Agreement bodies.

2.4 National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis

In order to prepare for membership, Turkey has to prepare a National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA). This programme should set out a timetable for achieving the priorities and intermediate objectives established in the Accession Partnership.

It is expected that Turkey on the basis of the 2008 Accession Partnership adopts a new national programme for the adoption of the acquis.

2.5 Pre-accession assistance

Turkey has been receiving pre-accession assistance from the EU since 2001, under the Turkish Financial Instrument. Funds are programmed on an annual basis under National Programmes for each year. As from 2007, Turkey is the beneficiary of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) (Council Regulation 1085/2006, adopted on 17 July 2006).

The main aim of this assistance is to help Turkey to meet the criteria for EU membership. Financial assistance to Turkey is programmed within the framework of the objectives set out in the Accession Partnership document, and the priorities set out in the National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis (NPAA).

Once, the Annual National Programme is signed, the funds are managed by the Central Finance and Contract Unit in Ankara, which is par of the Ministry of Finance (decentralised management). The responsibility for the use of EU funds in Turkey lies therefore with the Turkish government. The European Commission, however, has the mandate to ensure that EU procedures are followed throughout the tendering process. Therefore the EC Delegation in Ankara on behalf of the European Commission gives its ex-ante approval before any tender is launched or contract awarded.

For the period 2007- 2010 the average annual allocation for Turkey is expected to increase from €497 Millions in 2007 to €653.7 Millions in 2010.

2.6 The pre-accession strategy includes also:

  • Continuous Political Dialogue between the EU and Turkey,
  • Participation in EU programmes (Competitiveness and Innovation Programme, 7th Research Framework Programme, Lifelong learning programme, Programme for Employment and Social Solidarity)and Agencies,
  • Co-financing from International Financing Institutions are also part of Turkey pre-accession strategy.

3. Key Dates

September 1959

Turkey applied for associate membership of the European Economic Community (EEC)

September 1963

Ankara Association Agreement is signed, aiming at bringing Turkey into a Customs Union with the EEC and to eventual membership. First financial protocol to the initial agreement is also signed.

November 1970

The Additional Protocol and the second financial protocol are signed in Brussels, preparing the ground for the establishment of the customs union.

Feb. 1952

Turkey becomes a full member of NATO

Jan. 1973

The Additional Protocol enters into force. It sets out comprehensively how the Customs Union would be established.

During the first
half of the 1980s

relations between Turkey and the Community almost froze due to the military intervention on 12 September 1980.

June 1980

The Association Council decided to decrease customs duties on almost all agricultural products to “zero” by 1987.

Sept. 1986

The Turkey-EEC Association Council meeting revived the association process.

14 April 1987

Turkey applies for full EEC membership.

Dec. 1989

The Commission endorsed Turkey’s eligibility for membership but deferred the assessment of its application.

March 1995

Turkey-EU Association Council finalized the agreement on the Customs Union, which enters into force on 1 January 1996.

December 1997

At the Luxembourg Summit, Turkey is declared eligible to become a member of the European Union.

December 1999

EU Helsinki Council recognized Turkey as an EU candidate country.

March 2001

The EU Council of Ministers adopted the first EU- Turkey Accession Partnership.

March 2001

The Turkish government presented its first National Programme for the Adoption of the Acquis.

October 2004

The Commission presented its “Recommendation of the European Commission on Turkey’s Progress towards accession” along with its paper “Issues Arising from Turkey’s Membership Perspective.”

17 Dec. 2004

European Council decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005.

23 May 2005

State Minister Ali Babacan is selected as Chief negotiator with the EU.

29 June 2005

The Negotiation Framework with Turkey was presented by the Commission.

29 July 2005

Turkey signed protocol to Ankara agreement, extending EU-15 customs union to the ten new member states including Cyprus. Ankara also issues a declaration on the non-recognition of Cyprus.

21 Sept. 2005

The EU approved its counter-declaration on Turkey’s 29 July declaration.

3 Oct. 2005

Accession talks opened with Turkey.

16 March 2006

The European Parliament adopted a resolution based on a report by Elmar Brok on the Commission’s enlargement strategy paper

12 June 2006

The EU started concrete accession negotiations with Turkey. The negotiating framework specifies 35 chapters. The Council agrees on opening and closure of the chapter on science and research.

4 Sept. 2006

European Parliament voted a report concerning Turkey’s progress on preparing for membership.

8 Nov. 2006

Commission published a critical report on Turkey’s accession progress.  

December 2006

Due to the Turkish failure to apply to Cyprus the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement the Council decided that eight relevant chapters will not be opened and no chapter will be provisionally closed until Turkey has fulfilled its commitment. The eight chapters are: free movement of goods, right of establishment and freedom to provide service, financial services, agriculture and rural development, fisheries, transport policy, customs union and external relations.

March 2007

Negotiations are opened on the chapter Enterprise and Industry

June 2007

Negotiations are opened on two chapters: Financial Control and Statistics.

November 2007

Publication of the European Commission Progress Report

May 2008

European Parliament resolution on Turkey’s 2007 progress report

June 2008

Negotiations are opened on two chapters: Company Law and Intellectual Property laws

June 2009

Negotiations are opened on the chapter: Taxation

December 2009

Negotiations are opened on the chapter: Environment

October 2009

Publication of the European Commission Progress Report

June 2010

Negotiations are opened on the chapter: Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy

November 2010

Publication of the European Commission Progress Report

October 2011

Publication of the European Commission Progress Report

4. Key Documents

EC-Turkey Association Council decision 1/95 of 22 December 1995 on implementing the final phase of the Customs Union (96/142/EC)

European Commission Progress Reports since 1998
(http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/turkey/key_documents_en.htm)

Accession Partnerships (2001, 2003, 2006, 2008)
(http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/turkey/key_documents_en.htm)

National Programme for the adoption of the Acquis (NPAA)
(http://www.abgs.gov.tr/?p=1&l=2)

European Parliament resolutions on Turkey’s Progress Reports

Accession Negotiations with Turkey (2004 Recommendation of the EC on Turkey’s progress towards accession, 2004 Conclusions of the European Council on the opening of accession negotiations with Turkey, 2005 Negotiating Framework,  Screening Reports
(http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/turkey/key_documents_en.htm)

5. Glossary for the EU

  • Lexique (alphabetical) 

Acquis Communautaire:
The EU acquis communautaire, French for "that which has been agreed", is the set of EU rules, including:

  • the content, principles and political objectives of the Treaties on which the European Union is founded;
  • legislation and decisions adopted pursuant to the Treaties, and the case law of the Court of Justice;
  • other acts, legally binding or not, such as interinstitutional agreements, resolutions, statements, recommendations, guidelines;

Membership Criteria:

The so-called "Copenhagen criteria", set out in December 1993 by the European Council in Copenhagen, require a candidate country to have:

  • stable institutions that guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities;
  • a functioning market economy, as well as the ability to cope with the pressure of competition and the market forces at work inside the Union;
  • the ability to assume the obligations of membership, in particular adherence to the objectives of political, economic and monetary union.

In 1995 the Madrid European Council further clarified that a candidate country must also be able to put the EU rules and procedures into effect. Accession also requires the candidate country to have created the conditions for its integration by adapting its administrative structures. While it is important for EU legislation to be transposed into national legislation, it is even more important for the legislation to be implemented and enforced effectively through the appropriate administrative and judicial structures.

Customs Union: A customs union is a free trade area with a common external tariff. The participant countries set up common external trade policy, but in some cases they use different import quotas. Common competition policy is also helpful to avoid competition deficiency.

Purposes for establishing a customs union normally include increasing economic efficiency and establishing closer political and cultural ties between the member countries.

Association Agreement: A European Union Association Agreement (for short, Association Agreement or AA) is a treaty between the European Union (EU) and a non-EU country that creates a framework for co-operation between them. Areas frequently covered by such agreements include the development of political, trade, social, cultural and security links.

6. Related official Websites:

EUROPA Website www.europa.eu
DG ELARG http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/enlargement/
EC Delegation in Ankara http://www.avrupa.info.tr
Secretariat General for EU affairs www.abgs.gov.tr
Invest In Turkey www.invest.gov.tr


 
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