Oral intervention of the Head of EU delegation to the CoE on recent legislative amendments in Turkey (Internet law), 1191 CM meeting (12/02/2014)

High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle met with the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmet Davutoğlu and Minister for EU Affairs and Chief Negotiator Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu for political dialogue on Monday in Brussels.

After the meeting Commissioner Füle stated that last year progress was achieved in Turkey: the 4th judicial reform package and the democratisation package were adopted, the regional policy chapter in the accession negotiations was opened; talks on visa liberalisation started and the readmission agreement was signed. All this gave fresh momentum to the EU-Turkey cooperation and proved a strong desire of both sides to advance further. 

High Representative and the Commissioner discussed also on Monday with their Turkish counterparts the recent developments in Turkey, including the internet law adopted last week. They have underlined the need for Turkey as a candidate country in accession negotiations to engage in early consultations with the Commission on all laws related to both the accession process and the political criteria.

The internet law adopted on 6 February 2014 by the Turkish parliament raises serious concerns, as it imposes important restrictions on the freedom of expression, including:

  • obligation for internet providers to monitor the posted content,
  • users' browsing history will be kept for two years,
  • increased authority of the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB)
  • and limitations of judicial review.

The EU recalls that any restriction should be targeted and proportionate.

This law needs to be revised in line with the European standards and the obligations deriving from Turkey's membership of the Council of Europe. In this context I welcome the dialogue started by the Secretary General with the Turkish authorities on the issue of the Internet law. The European Commission on its part agreed to share in writing a number of the concerns identified, regarding both compatibility with the acquis and EU best practices.