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EU-Turkey customs union: Modernisation or suspension?

15-12-2020

Turkey is the EU's fifth largest trading partner, while the EU is Turkey's largest. The association agreement concluded between the European Economic Community (EEC) and Turkey in 1963 was an interim step towards the country's accession to the EEC, membership of which it had applied for in 1959. The EU-Turkey customs union came into force in 1995, and Turkey obtained EU candidate status in 1999. In December 2004, the European Council decided that Turkey qualified for EU accession, making it possible ...

Turkey is the EU's fifth largest trading partner, while the EU is Turkey's largest. The association agreement concluded between the European Economic Community (EEC) and Turkey in 1963 was an interim step towards the country's accession to the EEC, membership of which it had applied for in 1959. The EU-Turkey customs union came into force in 1995, and Turkey obtained EU candidate status in 1999. In December 2004, the European Council decided that Turkey qualified for EU accession, making it possible to open negotiations to this end. In 2008, the Council of the EU adopted a revised accession partnership with Turkey. Since 2016, EU-Turkey relations have suffered due to a deterioration of democratic principles, human rights and the rule of law in Turkey, in the wake of a failed military coup. A European Commission recommendation of 21 December 2016 to launch talks with Turkey on modernising the EU-Turkey customs union was halted by the General Affairs Council of 26 June 2018, which concluded that no further work in this direction should be planned. In 2019 and 2020, Turkey's military operations in Syria, Libya and the eastern Mediterranean, coupled with its maritime disputes with Greece and Cyprus, further eroded its relations with the EU. Following some positive signs by Turkey, on 1 October 2020 the European Council once again gave a green light to modernising the customs union, provided that constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus were sustained. The European Council also stressed that in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU would use 'all the instruments and the options at its disposal', including in accordance with Article 29 of the Treaty on European Union and Article 215 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, to defend its interests and those of its Member States. However, in the light of Turkey's recent conduct and given that the EU-Turkey customs union has not been modernised, but not suspended either, the EU could agree on some new sanctions, as called for in the European Parliament's 26 November 2020 resolution on escalating tensions in Varosha.

Turkey: Remodelling the eastern Mediterranean: Conflicting exploration of natural gas reserves

04-09-2020

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral ...

Since the discovery of offshore natural gas reserves in the eastern Mediterranean in the early 2000s, Turkey has challenged its neighbours with regard to international law and the delimitation of their exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and destabilised the whole region through its illegal drilling and military interventions. Ankara has used military force and intimidation, including repeated violations of the territorial waters and airspaces of neighbouring countries. Ankara has also used bilateral deals, such as its November 2019 memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA), which purports to determine new maritime boundaries. The Turkey-Libya MoU effectively drew a dividing line between the eastern and western parts of the Mediterranean, threatening maritime security, natural gas exploration and new infrastructures such as the EastMed pipeline. Turkey's behaviour, beyond its geo-economic interests, reflects a more ambitious geopolitical 'neo-Ottoman' agenda intent on remodelling the whole region by spreading the country's influence from northern Iraq and Syria to Libya and leaving behind the Kemalist tradition of secularism and regional neutrality. Tensions in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean have not been conducive to good neighbourly relations. The international community has strongly condemned Turkey's behaviour. Taking into account Turkey's poor track record in upholding human rights and the rule of law, the European Union has suspended accession negotiations and all pre-accession funds under the planned new multiannual financial framework for 2021 to 2027. The European Parliament has condemned Turkey's illegal drilling activities as well as its military interventions in the region.

Plenary round-up – Strasbourg, October II 2019

24-10-2019

The October II plenary session highlights included statements and debates on the outcome of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 October 2019, and a review of the Juncker Commission's term. Parliament also debated statements made on behalf of the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on the Turkish military operation in north-east Syria and its consequences, and on the violent suppression of young people's and ...

The October II plenary session highlights included statements and debates on the outcome of the European Council meeting of 17 and 18 October 2019, and a review of the Juncker Commission's term. Parliament also debated statements made on behalf of the Vice-President of the European Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) on the Turkish military operation in north-east Syria and its consequences, and on the violent suppression of young people's and students' protests in Iraq. Debates took place, inter alia, on Commission and Council statements on the effects of the Thomas Cook bankruptcy, on the dangers of violent right-wing extremism, on criminalisation of sexual education in Poland and on storms in Europe, followed by debates on accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania. Members declined to approve the 2017 accounts of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and European Council/Council, and adopted Parliament's position on the general budget of the EU for 2020, which now goes to conciliation.

Albania: On the threshold of EU membership

16-10-2019

The October 2019 European Council meeting will discuss Albania and North Macedonia. The 2018 western Balkans strategy aimed at injecting new momentum for EU enlargement, consequently European Commission President-designate Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative and Vice-President-designate Josep Borrell, have declared that the EU would prioritise enlargement talks with the western Balkans. In the face of growing frustration and 'enlargement fatigue', a decision to open negotiations would be ...

The October 2019 European Council meeting will discuss Albania and North Macedonia. The 2018 western Balkans strategy aimed at injecting new momentum for EU enlargement, consequently European Commission President-designate Ursula von der Leyen, and High Representative and Vice-President-designate Josep Borrell, have declared that the EU would prioritise enlargement talks with the western Balkans. In the face of growing frustration and 'enlargement fatigue', a decision to open negotiations would be a strong signal to the region.

Turkey: 2018 country report

06-03-2019

In March 2019, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Turkey's 2018 country report. Both the Commission's report and that of the Foreign Affairs Committee point to backsliding in key areas. The Foreign Affairs Committee calls for improvement, and for the suspension of accession negotiations.

In March 2019, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Turkey's 2018 country report. Both the Commission's report and that of the Foreign Affairs Committee point to backsliding in key areas. The Foreign Affairs Committee calls for improvement, and for the suspension of accession negotiations.

Plenary round-up – Brussels, November II 2018

30-11-2018

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward ...

The highlights of the November II plenary session were the debate on the future of Europe with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and the discussion on the Council and Commission statements on UK withdrawal from the European Union. Debates were held on a Commission statement on the single market package and the long-term strategy for reducing EU greenhouse gas emissions. Members debated and adopted reports on five Western Balkan countries, as well as a report on the way forward for the World Trade Organization (WTO). A number of legislative reports were voted without debate, including on trade in goods that could be used for capital punishment, torture or other cruel treatment or punishment, the temporary reintroduction of border controls at the internal borders, and common rules for the operation of air services.

Kosovo: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 country report on Kosovo. The latest progress report notes that Kosovo has had limited success in bringing forward EU-related reforms. It calls on government and opposition to work together in order to implement them.

Albania: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 enlargement report on Albania. The latest report notes that Albania has made progress on its five key priorities; however, corruption and political instability remain pervasive, meaning the country cannot move beyond the early stages of accession preparation.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 enlargement report on Albania. The latest report notes that Albania has made progress on its five key priorities; however, corruption and political instability remain pervasive, meaning the country cannot move beyond the early stages of accession preparation.

FYR Macedonia: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

During its November II 2018 plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 enlargement report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia). The progress report acknowledges significant progress and a political will to advance the EU agenda.

During its November II 2018 plenary session, the European Parliament is expected to debate a resolution on the European Commission’s 2018 enlargement report on the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia). The progress report acknowledges significant progress and a political will to advance the EU agenda.

Serbia: 2018 country report

27-11-2018

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Serbia's 2018 country report. The report acknowledges Serbia's progress in its accession process, but points to rule of law and freedom of expression as significant obstacles. Relations with Kosovo, another key issue, are also still a major challenge.

In November 2018, the European Parliament is due to vote on a motion for a resolution on Serbia's 2018 country report. The report acknowledges Serbia's progress in its accession process, but points to rule of law and freedom of expression as significant obstacles. Relations with Kosovo, another key issue, are also still a major challenge.

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