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Turkey 'moving away from the EU': enlargement report

10 November 2016, 12:22 CET
Turkey 'moving away from the EU': enlargement report

Johannes Hahn - Photo EC

(BRUSSELS) - Turkey is moving away from the EU, the Commission warns in its annual assessment of potential EU members' progress in implementing political and economic reforms.

The main message of the 2016 Enlargement Package, which assesses where the countries of the Western Balkans and Turkey stand as regards the key reforms, and what needs to be done to address the remaining challenges, maintains that a credible enlargement process is key to "driving transformation and anchoring stability in South-east Europe".

This year's annual report on Turkey comes at a very important point in time for the country and for EU-Turkey relations: "We are gravely concerned about the degradation of the rule of law and democracy unfolding in the aftermath of the failed coup attempt", said Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn: "In its own interest, Turkey urgently needs to stop moving away from the EU."

There has been backsliding on fundamental rights in Turkey, says the report, and practical implementation often shows significant shortcomings. Following the attempted coup in July, a state of emergency was declared under which far-reaching measures curtailing fundamental rights were taken. Many serious violations of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and of procedural rights were alleged in the aftermath of the coup attempt.

On the EU's continuing enlargement drive, Mr Hahn argued that the prospect of EU membership is continuing "to drive transformation and anchor stability in the countries of South-east Europe", and that the enlargement process is helping strengthen strengthen these countries and helping them carry out political and economic reforms. "Today we reiterate the EU's continued support for these efforts and call on the governments of the enlargement countries to embrace the necessary reforms more actively and truly make this their political agenda – not because the EU is asking for it, but because it is in the best interest of their citizens, and Europe as a whole", said Mr Hahn.

The Enlargement Package also recommends that the EU's Member States consider opening accession negotiations with Albania. This, however, it is stressed, is strictly subject to credible and tangible progress in the implementation of the judicial reform, in particular the re-evaluation of judges and prosecutors ("vetting").

EU accession negotiations have been opened with candidate countries Turkey (2005), Montenegro (2012) and with Serbia (2014), but not yet with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (a candidate country since 2005) nor Albania (candidate status in 2014). Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo are potential candidates.

Detailed findings and recommendations on each country:

Strategy Paper
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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