EU-Turkey: Positive agenda to keep reforms going
“European Union and Turkey should shape the joint future in a proactive way,” Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle said on Friday in Istanbul. He visited Turkey together with Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to discuss with their Turkish counterparts how to inject fresh life into the mutual relations in general and into the accession process in particular. “There are frustrations both in Turkey and in the EU because of the slow pace of the accession process. We have ideas how to make sure that the tempo of reforms in Turkey doesn’t depend on the speed of negotiations, which are not progressing as we would wish,” Mr Füle stated after official talks with several members of the Turkish government.
“We have proposed a new positive agenda which builds on the solid fundamentals of our relations and moves the reform process forward. This positive agenda does not replace the accessions negotiations, it complements them in order to support reforms, to expand freedoms for Turkish citizens and to shape our common future,” Commissioner Füle explained in his bilateral meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan and later when he jointly with Commissioner De Gucht met Turkish Minister for EU Affairs Egemen Bağış and the Minister for Economy Zafer Çağlayan.
Commissioner Füle was also giving a speech at the conference on EU-Turkey relations organized by the European think tank Centre for European Policy and the business association TUSKON where he outlined the key elements of the new positive agenda. “Some examples where this new agenda could bring tangible results and benefits are: improvements in the visa issuance for Turkish passport holders, improvements in the effectiveness of the Customs Union and strengthened cooperation in combating terrorism,” Mr Füle said, adding that the positive agenda will allow the EU to remain the benchmark for continued reform in Turkey through an informal process focused on technical aspects linked to the EU acquis. The European Commission intends to look at all these issues in their complexity and to be transparent all along towards both Turkey and the member states of the European Union.
During his 2-days visit to Istanbul Commissioner Füle discussed elements of the new positive agenda also with the representatives of the business community; the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) and the Turkish Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (TUSIAD). He had talks with the representatives of Turkish civil society and media to discuss issues notably related to the freedom of expression.