Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (69)

Eoghan Murphy

Question:

73 Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans for the EU Presidency next year in so far as Turkey’s accession to the EU is concerned; and if he anticipates any significant developments, in particular in relation to the opening or closing of remaining chapters. [35157/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The enlargement agenda is an important aspect of EU foreign policy still within the purview of the rotating EU Presidency. We have already begun planning to take the process forward in relation to all five candidate countries — Iceland, Turkey, Montenegro, Serbia and the Republic of Macedonia. With regard to Turkey, Minister of State, Deputy Creighton visited Turkey last week in part to discuss areas for possible progress during our Presidency. As the Deputy may be aware, progress on Turkey's EU accession has been very slow of late with the last Chapter in the negotiations opened in 2010. 12 of the 33 negotiating Chapters have been officially opened and one provisionally closed.

Of the remaining 21 Chapters, negotiations on eight of them have been suspended by the Council since December 2006 due to Turkey's failure to meet its obligations under the Ankara Protocol i.e. normalisation of relations with Cyprus. The Council also agreed that it will not decide on provisionally closing Chapters until the Commission verifies that Turkey has fulfilled its commitments related to the Protocol. A further four Chapters remain frozen since 2007 and Cyprus is blocking another six. This leaves three Chapters with a possibility of being opened.

In the absence of movement in the enlargement negotiations, Turkey is still proceeding, nonetheless, with reforms including plans for a new Constitution, in part to bring it more in line with EU standards. The December 2011 General Affairs Council also took "positive note" of the Commission's proposal for a renewed "positive agenda” to support the negotiation process which would involve enhanced cooperation with Turkey in parallel with the accession process in an effort to keep momentum behind the negotiations.

We will be working closely with Turkey, with the European Commission, and with our EU partners and will make every effort to move the agenda forward during our Presidency.