Turkey has shown no progress in EU accession - European Commission president-elect

The incoming President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday that Turkey had not shown any progress recently, Euronews Turkish reported.

“As regards to Turkey, I have not seen this progress in the last few years. On the contrary ... Turkey needs to show that it wants to be closer to European values, European rules, the rule of law, liberty and fundamental values,” von der Leyen was quoted by Reuters as saying at a press conference where she announced a draft list for her new cabinet.

An official EU candidate country since 1999, Turkey has had a customs union deal with the bloc in place since January 1996. Accession negotiations started in October 2005, but have stalled in the last few years.

Hungarian right-wing politician László Trócsányi is set to serve as the commissioner for the European neighbourhood policy and enlargement negotiations, according to the draft list of commissioners-designate, which will be voted on by the EU council.

President-elect von der Leyen did not respond to a question about Trócsányi’s views on Turkey joining the union. Trócsányi, known for his anti-immigration views, will be overseeing Turkey’s bid for accession as well.

Von der Leyen said the EU has given Turkey six billion euros to date to be invested in refugee camps in the country. There has been dispute regarding how much of the money was actually received by Turkey recently, she said and stressed that it is important to clarify a concrete number, as the EU is responsible in this matter.

When asked whether the refugee deal with Turkey would be renewed, von der Leyen said, “We will see.”

Turkey’s land and sea borders had been used by refugees and asylum seekers as a primary entry point to the EU until 2016, when the refugee deal was signed.

Several Greek islands, including Lesbos and Samos, are still hosting thousands of refugees in overcrowded camps, waiting to have their applications processed.

EU reports show a recent surge in refugee and asylum seeker arrivals through Turkey, but Turkey rejects the claims.