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The European Union enlargement process took a major step forward on 3 October, 2005 when accession negotiations were opened with Turkey and Croatia. After years of preparation the two candidates formally opened the next stage of the accession process.
The negotiations relate to the adoption and implementation of the EU body of law, know as the acquis. The acquis is approximately 130,000 pages of legal documents grouped into 35 chapters and forms the rules by which Member States of the EU should adhere.
As a candidate country, Turkey needs to adapt a considerable part of its national legislation in line with EU law. This means fundamental changes for society that will affect almost all sectors of the country, from the environment to the judiciary, from transport to agriculture, and across all sections of the population.
However, the candidate country does not 'negotiate' on the acquis communautaire itself as these 'rules' must be fully adopted by the candidate country.
The negotiation aspect is on the conditions for harmonisation and implementation of the acquis, that is, how the rules are going to be applied and when. It is for this reason that accession negotiations are not considered to be negotiations in the classical sense.
In order to become a Member State, the candidate country must bring its institutions, management capacity and administrative and judicial systems up to EU standards, both at national and regional level. This allows them to implement the acquis effectively upon accession and, where necessary, to be able to implement it effectively in good time before accession. This requires a well-functioning and stable public administration built on an efficient and impartial civil service, and an independent and efficient judicial system.
Negotiations are conducted according to a Negotiating Framework (attached below) that sets out the method and the guiding principles of the negotiations in line with the December 2004 European Council conclusions.
The first part of the process is the "screening" of each of the 35 chapters of the negotiations. Screening is a preliminary assessment of the degree of preparedness of the Candidate Country on each of the negotiating chapters. Each chapter contains a specific part of EU policy (known as the "acquis", which in French means something which is agreed), for example "science and research" or "energy" or the "environment".
Two formal meetings are held for each acquis chapter in the screening phase. An initial explanatory meeting is held with the candidate country during which the Commission sets out the main objectives and requirements of EU policy in that field. In the second meeting the candidate country explains its degree of preparedness vis a vis EU policy and outlines its plans for alignment.
Following these meetings, the Commission prepares a screening report for the chapter, which may recommend either that the candidate country, is sufficiently prepared to open negotiations on the chapter or that the candidate country cannot be considered sufficiently prepared. In the latter case, the Commission will propose a set of "opening benchmarks", which are concrete requirements that the candidate needs to achieve in order for the chapter to be opened.
Opening and Closing Chapters
The Member States, meeting in the Council, assess and examine the findings in the screening report of the Commission. Based on unanimity, the Council may decide to accept the recommendation of the Commission. If the Council decides to open the chapter for negotiation, it will invite the candidate country to present its Negotiating Position (NP). Once this has been received, the Commission prepares a Draft Common Position (DCP). The Council assesses and examines the DCP and on the basis of unanimity may adopt the definitive European Union Common Position (EUCP). With the NP and the EUCP completed, the Council and the Candidate Country at the Accession Conference can formally open the chapter for negotiation.
The EUCP may include "closing benchmarks" which are concrete requirements that the Candidate Country needs to fulfil before a chapter can be provisionally closed. There may be outstanding issues that need further discussion and the candidate country and the 27 Member States may exchange several rounds of position papers until all issues are clarified. The acquis is not negotiable and the principle of the accession process is that the Candidate Country is expected to align fully with all of the acquis. Nonetheless, transitional arrangements may be envisaged in particular where considerable adaptations and financial outlays are necessary, taking into account the interests of the Union and of Turkey. In areas such as free movement of persons, structural policies or agriculture the Commission will include, as appropriate, long transition periods, derogations specific arrangements or permanent safeguard clauses.
The chapters are provisionally closed as agreement is reached on each – but nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. As the acquis is constantly evolving chapters can be reopened later should it be necessary.
Throughout this process, the Commission monitors progress of the candidate country's preparations for membership. The results of the monitoring exercise are published in a yearly 'Regular Report'. The speed of the accession negotiations is determined by the progress on implementation of the reforms in the candidate country, in line with the Copenhagen Criteria for membership.
Once agreement has been reached on all chapters of the acquis, a process that takes some years, the results are incorporated into an "Accession Treaty".
Prior to signing the Accession Treaty, the Commission delivers its final opinion on the Candidate Country's membership application. Additionally, the European Parliament needs to give its consent and, finally, the European Council must reach a unanimous decision on acceptance of the application.
To enter into force, the Accession Treaty needs to be ratified by the national parliaments of the EU Member States and the parliament of the acceding country. In some cases, this may require a national referendum to be held. The acceding country becomes a member of the EU once the Accession Treaty has entered into force.
Negotiations take place in bilateral Intergovernmental Conferences between the Member States and Turkey, called accession conferences.
27 Member States of the EU…
In order to agree common positions among themselves before presenting them to Turkey, the EU Member States meet in the framework of the EU Council of Ministers. All decisions are taken by unanimity.
The Council of Ministers (one representative from each Member States) is the chief actor and decision-maker on the EU side. The rotating Presidency of the Council chairs the meetings and ensures communication with Turkey.
Turkey is represented in the Accession Conference by its Chief Negotiator. In Brussels, daily contacts and representation are ensured by Turkey's Permanent Mission to the EU headed by its Ambassador.
The European Commission as the "Guardian of the Treaties" provides technical support and acts as a facilitator in the negotiation process. Within the Commission, the work is coordinated by the Directorate General for Enlargement.
The European Parliament is kept informed of progress in the negotiations and must give its assent to the resulting accession treaty.
Public opinion is another important player. In some countries, the final approval of the Accession Treaty may depend on the result of a referendum. Whether it does or not, general public opinion is a major political factor to be considered. In order to enhance the mutual knowledge about each other and to debate real or perceived issues and problems, the Commission has launched a Civil Society Dialogue programme to reinforce the dialogue between civil society in the EU and in candidate countries.
The 130,000 pages, which make up the European Union Acquis is grouped in 35 chapters, and it is constantly evolving as new rules and regulations are incorporated.
In terms of content the acquis includes:
The 35 chapters of EU accession negotiations are:
1. Free Movement of Goods
2. Freedom of Movement for Workers
3. Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services
4. Free Movement of Capital
5. Public Procurement
6. Company Law
7. Intellectual Property
8. Competition Policy
9. Financial Services
10. Information Society & Media
11. Agriculture & Rural Development
12. Food Safety
14. Transport Policy
17. Economic and Monetary Policy
19. Social Policy and Employment
20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy
21. Trans-European Networks
22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments
23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights
24. Justice, Freedom & Security
25. Science and Research
26. Education and Culture
28. Consumer and Health Protection
29. Customs Union
30. External Relations
31. Foreign, Security, Defence Policy
32. Financial Control
33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions
35. Other Issues
Turkey benefits from EU financial assistance through several financial instruments, the main tool is the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Some other important support schemes are the Facility for refugees in Turkey (FRIT), the European Instruments for Democracy and Human Rights, or the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace.
The Instrument for Pre-Accession is a financial instrument the EU deploys in 'enlargement countries' – countries that have applied for EU membership. IPA funds build up the capacities of the countries throughout the accession process, helping the beneficiaries make political and economic reforms and preparing them for the rights and obligations that come with EU membership. For the period 2007-2013 IPA had a budget of some € 11.5 billion; its successor, IPA II, builds on the results already achieved by dedicating € 11.7 billion for the period 2014-2020.
Concerning IPA I (2007-2013), out of the total € 4.79 billion available for Turkey, € 4.583 billion have been globally committed by Financing Agreements signed between EU and Turkey. The Turkish Authorities and the EU Delegation contracted € 4.444 billion (i.e. 97% of the global commitment amount) at local level, leading to disbursements of € 4.028 billion (88%) by the end of February 2018.
For the period 2014-2020, the EU allocation is €4.45 billion. Out of the total €4.45 billion available for Turkey, € 2.263 billion have been globally committed by Financing Agreements signed between EU and Turkey. The Turkish Authorities and the EU Delegation contracted € 427.4 million (İ.e. 19% of the global commitment amount) at local level, leading to disbursements of € 219.9 million (9.7%) by the end of February 2018.
Terrorism is not a new phenomenon in Europe. It poses a threat to our security, to the values of our democratic societies and to the rights and freedoms of European citizens.
In 2016, a total of 142 failed, foiled or completed attacks were carried in EU members states. Of the 142 victims that died in terrorist attacks, 135 people were killed in jihadist terrorist attacks. 1002 persons were arrested for terrorist offences in 2016, most of them were related to jihadist terrorism.
The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters from Europe travelling to different locations to fight the jihad, and the security threat they may pose inside the EU when they return, are also likely to persist in the coming years.
Since these threats do not recognise borders, they must be confronted at both a national and international level.
The EU counter-terrorism strategy aims to combat terrorism globally while respecting human rights, and to make Europe safer, allowing its citizens to live in an area of freedom, security and justice.
The European Union member states are committed to jointly fighting terrorism and providing for the best possible protection for its citizens. To this end, in 2005 the Council adopted the EU counter-terrorism strategy.
The strategy is focused on four main pillars: prevent, protect, pursue and respond. Across these pillars, the strategy recognises the importance of cooperation with third countries and international institutions.
One of the EU priorities in the field of counter-terrorism is to identify and tackle the factors which contribute to radicalisation and the processes by which individuals are recruited to commit acts of terror. To this end the Council adopted an EU strategy for combating radicalisation and recruitment to terrorism. In light of evolving trends, such as the phenomena of lone actors and foreign fighters or the growing potential of social media for mobilisation and communication, the Council adopted a revision of this strategy in June 2014.
In December 2014, justice and home affairs ministers adopted a series of guidelines for the revised EU radicalisation and recruitment strategy. These guidelines set out a series of measures to be implemented by the EU and member states.
The second priority of the EU counter-terrorism strategy is the protection of citizens and infrastructure and the reduction of vulnerability to attack. This includes the protection of external borders, the improvement of transport security, the protection of strategic targets and the reduction of the vulnerability of critical infrastructure. In this area, the EU is currently working on legislation regulating the use of passenger name record (PNR) data for law enforcement purposes.
The EU is working to hinder terrorists' capacity to plan and organise, and to bring these terrorists to justice. To achieve these goals, the EU has focused on strengthening national capabilities, improving practical cooperation and information exchange between police and judicial authorities (in particular through Europol and Eurojust), tackling terrorist financing and depriving terrorists of the means by which they mount attacks and communicate.
In May 2015, the Council and the European Parliament adopted new rules to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
The fourth objective of the EU counter-terrorism strategy is to prepare, in the spirit of solidarity, to manage and minimise the consequences of a terrorist attack. This is done by improving capabilities to deal with the aftermath, the coordination of the response, and the needs of victims. Priorities in this area include the development of EU crisis co-ordination arrangements, the revision of the civil protection mechanism, the development of risk assessment or the sharing of best practices on assistance to victims of terrorism.
Priorities in recent years have included:
The security of the European Union is closely linked with the developments in other countries, particularly in the neighbouring states, and so the EU counter-terrorism strategy needs to be on a global scale.
In the strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs, adopted in June 2014, the European Council called for an effective counter-terrorism policy, which integrates the internal and external aspects. On 12 February 2015, the EU heads of state and government stressed the importance for the EU of engaging more with third countries on security issues and counter-terrorism.
In the relations between the EU and third countries, the counter-terrorism agenda is present in many ways, through high level political dialogues, the adoption of cooperation clauses and agreements, or specific assistance and capacity building projects with strategic countries. The EU cooperates on counter-terrorism with countries in the Western Balkans, the Sahel, North Africa, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and North America, as well as in Asia.
Cooperation with the US is a fundamental component of the EU's strategy. In recent years, cooperation agreements have been reached in areas such as the financing of terrorism, transport and borders, mutual legal assistance or extradition. US authorities are working more and more closely with Europol and Eurojust.
Another important part of the external dimension of the fight against terrorism involves working closely with other international and regional organisations to build international consensus and promote international standards for fighting terrorism. The European Union works with international organisations including the UN and the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, and regional organisations such as the Council of Europe, the OSCE, the League of Arab States or the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation.
As part of its cooperation with the UN, and following a number of UN Security Council resolutions, the EU has adopted certain restrictive measures against persons or entities associated with the Al-Qaeda network.
Following the terrorist attacks in Madrid on 11 March 2004, the European Council adopted a declaration on combating terrorism. Among the measures included in this declaration was the establishment of the position of a Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.
On 19 September 2007, then EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, appointed Gilles de Kerchove as EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator.
In this function, he is in charge of:
In the strategic guidelines for justice and home affairs (June 2014) the European Council reaffirmed the importance of the role of the counter-terrorism coordinator.
The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator regularly presents to the Council reports on the functioning and implementation of the existent counter-terrorism tools at EU level. Following the statement of EU leaders on counter terrorism on 12 February 2015, he has regularly presented reports to the Council on the state of play of implementation.
Statement by Gilles de Kerchove on EU response after Paris attacks, 12 January 2015.
The fight against online extremism is a key theme for 2017. In March 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator travelled to Silicon Valley with the Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos. He attended meetings with senior representatives from the IT industry to discuss how to tackle online extremism.
In December 2016, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator attended a ministerial meeting of the EU Internet Forum. As an outcome of the meeting, the industry decided to create a shared database to help identify potential terrorist content on social media and prevent its reappearance on other platforms.
The Counter-Terrorism Coordinator regularly briefs the Council on the issue of foreign fighters and returnees, with particular regard to those travelling to Syria and Iraq.
He also submits progress reports to the Council on the implementation of measures agreed by the ministers, as well as proposals for future work. In addition, he meets with authorities from third countries and international institutions to discuss the threat and identify possible areas of cooperation.
Following recent terrorist attacks in Europe, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator has taken part in the discussions on enhancing the EU's counter terrorism response, both from an internal and from an external perspective.
In March 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator attended an international conference in Malta to discuss the threat from returning foreign terrorist fighters. He spoke to senior officials from across the EU and north Africa, highlighting the need for greater information exchange in order to tackle threat from returnees.
As part of his role of fostering better communication between the EU and third countries in the area of counter-terrorism, the coordinator participates in dialogues with government officials and other stakeholders. To this end, Gilles de Kerchove has travelled to several countries to engage in high level political dialogues and speak with experts, policy makers and civil society. He has also examined possibilities for further cooperation and counter-terrorism capacity building, and attended and spoken at conferences.
In early March 2017, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator led a senior delegation from member states for an exchange of views with the Lebanese government. They discussed how to design an effective national counter-terrorism strategy. The outcome was a joint declaration between the EU and Lebanon which commits both sides to intensifying their cooperation in the pursuit of a national counterterrorism strategy for Lebanon.
In 2016, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator led efforts to develop stronger partnerships on counter-terrorism with a number of countries. Highlights of the year included a counter-terrorism workshop in Jordan in early 2016. The outcome was a joint declaration which committed both sides to stronger cooperation in fields such as countering violent extremism, terrorist finance and border security.
In June 2016, the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator led a counter-terrorism dialogue with a senior delegation from the Turkish government in Ankara. Both sides agreed to intensify cooperation on information exchange in order to tackle threat from foreign terrorist fighters.
Support for human rights defenders is one of the major priorities of the EU external policy in the field of human rights. Human rights defenders – who sometimes put their life at risk to defend and promote fundamental human rights – are key agents of change in their own society.
In order to streamline EU actions in this field, in 2004 the EU adopted Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders. The guidelines translate into concrete terms the assistance and protection given human rights defenders. Since 2004, the EU has taken a series of measures to translate the guidelines into action. Drawing on prior experiences, the guidelines were reviewed and a revised version of this document was approved by the EU in November 2008.
At the local level, the EU Delegation to Turkey together with the EU diplomatic missions in Turkey adopted an "EU Local Strategy to Support and Defend Human Rights Defenders in Turkey" in 2011. It was updated in 2012 and 2015 (Focal points were updated in 2016). This strategy was drafted with input from Turkish Human Rights Defenders (HRDs). It provides operational guidelines for EU Missions to implement the EU's Guidelines for Human Rights Defenders, notably with regard to the provision of effective support for HRDs as well as the monitoring of the situation of HRDs in Turkey. In the framework of this strategy, regular meetings take place every year with EU missions and HRDs and NGOs, and a liaison officer has been appointed in order to secure local assistance when needed.
In addition to the Guidelines, financial support for human right defenders is also provided under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). €22.16 million have been allocated toward this aim for the period of 2011-2013. €37.5 million has been allocated toward this aim for the period of 2014-2020.
For assistance or more information about the local strategy, please contact:
Focal Points on Human Rights:
Focal Point for Human Rights Defenders:
EIDHR Aspects of Work with HRDs
Gender Focal Points:
The EU Member States’ embassies and consulates in Turkey are responsible for implementing the Visa Code. There is a shared responsibility and solidarity among the Member States for controlling the external Schengen borders.
Currently, 24 out of the 26 Schengen Member States are represented in Turkey. (Schengen MS not represented in Turkey: Iceland and Liechtenstein.)
Consular offices delivering Schengen visas:
The common visa policy is based on Regulation (EC) No 810/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009, establishing a Community Code on Visas, commonly known as the Visa Code. The Visa Code sets out the procedures and conditions for issuing visas for the purpose of short stays and airport transit.
Council Regulation (EC) No 539/2001 of 15 March 2001, and its successive amendments, list all third countries whose nationals must be in possession of visas when crossing the external Schengen borders and those whose nationals are exempt from that requirement. Turkish citizens are currently subject to visa obligation.
Operational instructions for the application of the Visa Code are further specified in the Handbook for the processing of visa applications and the Handbook for the organisation of visa sections and local Schengen cooperation.
Given the number of visas issued and the geopolitical importance of EU-Turkey relations, the Local Schengen Cooperation (LSC) is considered an important platform for the exchange of information and experiences enabling Member States to ensure a harmonised approach when it comes to visa issuance.
Public outreach meetings are organised to explain the Schengen visa system to the wider public and, in particular, to business associations and local chambers of commerce in various locations throughout Turkey.
LSC in Turkey continues the harmonization work within the framework of the EU Visa Code. The approach of the Turkish public administration towards the Schengen Visa Regime remains critical, especially given the ongoing visa liberalization dialogue and the entry into force of the Readmission Agreement.
The LSC will closely follow the Visa Liberalization process until a final decision is reached.
The EU has a common visa policy for short stays (up to three months), which is applied through the Schengen visas. A common list of countries whose citizens must have a visa when crossing the external borders and a list of countries whose citizens are exempt from that requirement were adopted. Generally, a short-stay visa issued by one of the Schengen States entitles its holder to travel throughout the 26 Schengen States for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Visas for visits exceeding that period remain subject to national procedures. Turkey is among the countries for which that visa is required.
Turkish visa policy is largely aligned with the EU policy. It is also significantly stirred by political and commercial priorities, however, and encompasses countries that are on the EU’s negative list as a result. This poses an additional layer of complexity to EU-Turkey relations in this field for harmonisation of the visa lists.
The European Union launched the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue with Turkey on 16 December 2013.