Turkey’s European Union membership back on the agenda in Brussels

Turkey could be about to take a step closer to joining the European Union (EU), after the EU Council confirmed that next month it will resume talks with Turkey about its membership of the 28-nation EU bloc, following a three-year break from discussions.

Recent talks on Turkey’s membership were postponed in June, on account of the uprisings in Istanbul and other major cities. The EU is now ready to open talks on the next chapter of the membership process, which is on regional policy and coordination of structural instruments, convening an Accession Conference at Ministerial level on 5 November in Brussels.

Said the EU’s commissioner for enlargement, Stefan Füle, at the end of October: “Recent developments in Turkey underline the importance of EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey. To this end, accession negotiations need to regain momentum, respecting the EU’s commitments and established conditionality.”

Since the start of the negotiations with Turkey in 2005, thirteen chapters have been opened, of which one (chapter 25 on science and research) has been provisionally closed. Chapter 22 on regional policy and coordination of structural instruments is the fourteenth chapter to be opened. The last chapter, on food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy (chapter 12), was opened in June 2010. EU accession negotiations are divided into 35 chapters (policy fields) each of which is negotiated separately.

Recent reports have claimed Germany has given the green light for the opening of the new chapter, dropping its otherwise contrary attitude toward the accession.