Tag Archives: EU-Turkey

EU measures against Turkey drilling

This week the European Council adopted a framework for restrictive measures in response to Turkey‘s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The framework will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The sanctions will consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

MEPs to devote to human rights in Turkey

Brusssels. 20.06.2017. Turkey’s EU accession talks should be suspended if the proposed changes to the constitution go ahead, committee MEPs recommended on Tuesday.

Foreign Affairs Committee MEPs note in their annual assessment of Turkey’s reform progress that 2016 was a difficult year for Turkey as a result of the war in Syria, the influx of refugees, a string of heinous terror attacks and a coup attempt. They condemn the coup attempt and express their solidarity with the people of Turkey.

“Despite all internal differences, the European Parliament speaks with one voice when it comes to condemning human rights abuses in Turkey. The continuation of the state of emergency has disproportionately negative effects on Turkish society and the arbitrary arrest of thousands of citizens, including parliamentarians and mayors, is of utmost concern” – he rapporteur Kati Piri (S&D, NL) said.

“As the proposed constitutional reform package is not in line with EU membership criteria, the report calls for the formal suspension of the accession talks if the constitutional amendments are implemented unchanged. We expect the government to take the Venice Commission recommendations seriously, as well as the fact that half of the Turkish population voted against it in the referendum” – Piri added.

The resolution recognises the importance of good EU-Turkey relations and maintaining a constructive and open dialogue, which is key for addressing common challenges, such as migration, security or terrorism. MEPs propose upgrading the EU-Turkey Customs Union, by making human rights and fundamental freedoms part of a new agreement.

However, MEPs think that measures taken in response to the coup attempt are disproportionate, regretting the large-scale dismissal of civil servants, the closing of media outlets, the arrest of journalists, judges and human rights defenders, and the closure of schools and universities.

Taking note of the outcome of Turkey’s recent referendum and the expansion of presidential powers, the Foreign Affairs Committee calls on the EU Commission and the EU national governments “to formally suspend the accession negotiations with Turkey without delay if the constitutional reform package is implemented unchanged.”

Committee MEPs are concerned about Turkey’s backsliding in the rule of law, human rights, media freedom, and the fight against corruption. They condemn the repeatedly declared support for the reintroduction of the death penalty by the Turkish President, which would put into question Turkey’s membership in the Council of Europe and lead to an immediate end of EU accession talks.

The resolution on Turkey was adopted by 51 votes to 3, with 14 abstentions. The full House is scheduled to vote on it during the next plenary session in Strasbourg on July.


Brussels to reframe EU-Turkey relations

The Nato, the EU, and trade – Turkey have enjoyed a productive relationship in many domains for decades. However, recently relations have turned reserved as concerns mount over the state of democracy, rule of law, and freedoms in the country where media outlets were shut down and journalists jailed. MEPs reflect upon the developments and raise quetions if  it is a moment to rethink the format of the EU cooperation with Turkey. 

Relations hit a new low with the referendum in Turkey on 16 April to give the president additional powers, which could disrupt the balance of powers in the country.

Turkey has been an associate member of the European Economic Community since 1963 and applied to join in 1987.  It was recognised as a candidate for EU membership in 1999, but negotiations didn’t start until 2005. So far 16 out of 35 chapters have been opened and only one has been closed. Last November MEPs adopted a resolution asking for the negotiations to be temporarily suspended while repression continues in Turkey.

“The European Union does not intend in any way to close the door to the Turkish people, who remain our friends.” At the same time we cannot look the other way when events proceed in the opposite way of European construction. “Freedom of the press, freedom of expression, are vital rights for anyone wanting to join the European Union and the death penalty, similarly, is an inviolable red line,” –  said the EP president Antonio Tajani, during the debate on the situation in Turkey on 26 April in the plenary session, Brussels.

Turkey claims EU visa-free


The deals with the European Union, including an agreement on hosting the flow of migrants in Turkey, would be jeopardized if the bloc failed to implement promised visa liberalization for Turks, – Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu (pictured) said.

Speaking to CNN Turk television Cavusolgu said Turkey would present a final text to the EU “and either it will all be canceled, including the visa liberalization and migrant deal, or it will all be implemented.”

Turkey and the EU last year agreed a deal to stem massive flows of illegal migrants to Europe for readiness to footing the bill for the migrants stay in Turkey in a controversial multibillion deal, including visa-free for Turkish citizens.


Photo: illustration

EU-Libya: still no solution for migrants


On 24 January 2017, the High Representative Federica Mogherini met in Brussels with the United Nations Head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, Martin Kobler.

Two top ranking international civil servants Federica Mogherini and Martin Kobler exchanged views on the political and security situation in Libya, and on the regional initiatives to support a political, inclusive solution in the country. According to EU diplomats there were no suggestions for similar to EU-Turkey migrant deal.

Mogherini updated the Kobler on the EU’s  efforts to tackle the challenges of irregular migration along the Central Mediterranean Route, which focus on saving lives at sea and tackling traffickers and smugglers. HR underlined the importance of assisting migrants, including with their protection, and by engaging with both Libyan authorities and international organisations to improve the conditions of migrants inside Libya.

In this regard Mogherini also updated the UN Special Representative Kobler on the training of the Libyan Coast Guard by EUNAVFOR MED Operation Sophia. In spite of the cheerful tone of both civil servants there is no effective solutions proposed to resolve the problem of migrants flows from Africa.


Fabrice Leggeri, head of Frontex called for urgent need of intense political and diplomatic efforts to change the situation in .


EU-Turkey: to upgrade Customs Union?


The request of the European Commission to modernise the existing EU-Turkey Customs Union is motivated by the necessity to adapt the contemporary EU-Turkey trade relations, raising substantially the beneficial for both parties.

With the evolution of the economic environment and the significant growth of EU-Turkey trade, the Customs Union that entered into force in 1996 is becoming less and less equipped to deal with the modern-day challenges of trade integration. The first EU-Turkey High Level Economic Dialogue last April underlined the potential of its modernisation. The modernisation and extension of the Customs Union could unlock further opportunities for EU companies in the agri-food and services sectors and the public procurement market. Respect of democracy and fundamental rights will be an essential element of the agreement.

Turkey is the EU’s 5th largest partner in trade in goods. The value of bilateral trade in goods has increased more than fourfold since 1996 and currently amounts to €140 billion annually. The EU has a positive balance of €17 billion. For Turkey the EU is the most important trading partner, representing 41% of Turkey’s global trade. Moreover, two thirds of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Turkey currently originates in the EU.

The upgrade of the EU-Turkey trade relation forms an essential part of the efforts made by the EU and Turkey to deepen their relations in key areas of joint interest identified at the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015 and in the EU-Turkey statement of 18 March 2016. By making this proposal, the Commission continues to deliver on the commitments it has made. (Source: European Commission)