Turkey is moving further and further away from the European Union, the Council of the Union said on Tuesday in its comprehensive conclusion on the enlargement process, declaring that accession negotiations have effectively come to a standstill and that no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing.
The Council report, issued ahead of a summit in Brussels on 14-15 December, outlines key concerns about Turkey in the areas of democracy, rule of law, fundamental rights and foreign policy.
The lack of judicial independence and undue pressure on the judiciary, as well as restrictions on media freedom and expression, are highlighted in the final document as areas of concern.
The Council urged Turkey to cooperate with the Council of Europe (CoE) and address key recommendations, highlighting Turkey’s failure to implement ECHR judgments and questioning its commitment to the rule of law and fundamental rights. It called for urgent action to reverse the negative trends and address the shortcomings identified in the Commission’s previous report.
The Council also noted its deep concern about Turkey’s foreign policy, which it said was increasingly at odds with EU priorities, and called on Turkey to align itself with EU positions and restrictive measures without delay.
A key element of the conclusions was a specific call on Turkey to normalise relations with the Republic of Cyprus and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all EU member states in accordance with international law.
During the summit, which begins on Thursday, EU leaders will address the latest developments in Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and discuss the situation in the Middle East as well as the EU’s enlargement policy.
Turkey has been a candidate for EU membership since 1999. Formal negotiations with the EU began in 2005, but stalled over concerns about democratic backsliding, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary in the wake of the 2016 coup attempt.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously called on Brussels to clear the way for the country’s EU accession in exchange for ratifying Sweden’s NATO bid in July.