EU draft text seeks membership for Turkey
The EU's executive Commission has prepared a draft negotiating mandate for opening entry talks with Turkey which reaffirms that the goal of the talks is Turkish membership of the bloc, a copy of the text says.
"The negotiations will be based on Turkey's own merits and the pace will depend on Turkey's progress in meeting the requirements for membership," the document seen by Reuters says. "The shared objective of the negotiations is accession."
The Commission meets on Wednesday to decide whether to adopt the draft mandate. If it does so, the text will form the basis for entry negotiations with Ankara which are due to start in October.
They set a start date for the talks of Oct. 3 but left the period of negotiations open-ended.
If the Commission agrees the text, EU leaders must still confirm they want to start entry talks in October -- and some have expressed serious doubts about doing so, especially since French and Dutch voters rejected a proposed constitution for the bloc, partly over concerns at the pace of enlargement.
The draft states that in case of "a serious and persistent breach ... of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law ... the Commission will ... recommend the suspension of negotiations and propose the conditions for eventual resumption."
NO ENTRY BEFORE 2014
It adds that long transitional periods or safeguard clauses may be considered -- these would allow the bloc to suspend its rules on issues such as freedom of movement of people if Turkish accession led to a flood of migrant labor entering the EU.
It also stipulates that entry talks could not end until 2014 at the earliest, to allow for the financial aspects of accession to be fully considered.
The EU operates under a long-term budget and the next budgetary period runs from 2007-2013, so the Commission is making it clear that Turkey could not join until the subsequent budgetary period has started.
If Turkey does join, it will be expected to adopt the euro as its currency, the text says, in line with the rules for all new member states.
The text sets out 35 separate "chapters," or policy areas which Turkey will have to implement into national law before it is ready for membership.
It says Turkey will have to provide detailed information on its implementation of these, adding that even when chapters have been provisionally closed, the Commission can recommend they be re-opened if it has any doubts over Ankara's implementation.
The rejection of the constitution by French and Dutch voters has led some senior EU politicians to reconsider Turkish membership, as they fear voters were partly reacting to the consequences of digesting 10 new member states in 2004.
French Interior Minister and presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday that further expansion should be suspended for a while and "Europe cannot enlarge indefinitely."
German Christian Democratic opposition leader Angela Merkel, likely to become chancellor after a September election, is also opposed.
But Britain, which takes over the bloc's presidency on Friday and will lead the accession talks if they start on schedule in October, is a leading supporter of Ankara's bid.