Nov 06 2018

Turkey, EU should end membership process, commissioner says

The European Union and Turkey should put an end to the country’s membership bid, according to Johannes Hahn, the EU’s commissioner for enlargement.

“In the long term, I think it would be more honest for Turkey and the EU to go new ways and end the accession talks,” Hahn said in an interview with Die Welt. “But the decision is of course with the member states.

“Turkey's membership of the European Union will not be realistic in the foreseeable future, if I look at statements by French President Macron, for example, and the mood of the people in many member states.”

Hahn said negotiations with Turkey had frozen anyway and holding on to accession talks was preventing the establishment of a realistic, strategic partnership.

The two sides should instead focus on a renewed Customs Union and cooperation in energy, the struggle against terrorism, migration and other strategic matters, Hahn said.

Below is the full text of Hahn’s comments to Die Welt’s Christoph B. Schiltz, which are translated from German:

“At present, talks on Turkey's accession to the EU have frozen, and we have also adjusted payments, i.e. pre-accession aid, in this situation. You can, of course, live with it, it goes on and on, maybe until the day of the never-ending day. But would that really make sense? I think it is better for Turkey and the EU to ensure a clear balance in terms of mutual fairness. We should focus on things that are feasible and realistic, that is, orderly and strategic cooperation.

“For example, in the areas of energy, the fight against international terrorism, migration, international cooperation for the reconstruction of Syria and trade relations. The extension of the Customs Union would also be a concrete project from which both partners would greatly benefit. We should tackle the issue of customs union soon.

“In the long term, I think it would be more honest for Turkey and the EU to go new ways and end the accession talks. But the decision is of course with the member states. Turkey's membership of the European Union will not be realistic in the foreseeable future, if I look at statements by French President Macron, for example, and the mood of the people in many member states.

“In addition, despite the fact that Turkey has moved further and further away from EU standards, holding on to accession negotiations has blocked the way for a realistic, strategic partnership. We should aim for a new strategic partnership with our neighbour Turkey in our mutual interest.

“That's why it's so important to stay in dialogue. I will be in Turkey with Federica Mogherini (EU foreign policy representative) in mid-November to continue the regular political dialogue.”