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EC Releases Turkey Pre-Accession Progress Report

by Ulrika Lomas, for, Brussels

09 November 2006

Just over a year after Turkey began accession negotiations with the European Union, the European Commission has released a report on the country's progress towards fulfilling EU expectations.

In a report published on Wednesday, the Commission stated that:

"Although Turkey continues to sufficiently fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria and has pursued political reform, the pace has slowed during the past year and significant further efforts are needed."

"Some elements of the 9th reform package, which were part of the short term priorities under the Accession partnership, like the law creating an ombudsman or the law on settlements (which addresses the situation of the Roma people), were adopted, and preparation on the ground, like training of judges and prosecutors, is ongoing."

"However, most of the short-term priorities of the Accession Partnership remain to be met. Additional efforts need to be made to assert civilian control over the military. As regards fundamental rights, elements of the revised Penal Code need to be amended to adequately protect freedom of expression."

"Efforts should also be made in the areas of freedom of religion and economic and social rights, in particular women's and trade union rights. There is a need for Turkey to address the serious economic and social problems of the South East and ensure full enjoyment of rights and freedoms by the Kurdish population. Turkey also maintained its restrictions on direct transport links with Cyprus."

A decision on whether to suspend accession talks with Turkey over its failure to honour the customs agreement that it signed with the EU by opening transport links with Cyprus has been postponed until next month.

With regard to economic issues, the EC announced that:

"Turkey continues to be regarded as a functioning market economy, as long as it firmly maintains its recent stabilisation and reform achievements. Turkey should also be able to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within the Union in the medium term, provided that it firmly maintains its stabilisation policy and takes further decisive steps towards structural reforms. Progress has been made in the adoption of new legislation and the establishment of new institutions."

"However, administrative capacity needs further strengthening, and in many cases there is a need for more commitment and resources."

The report concluded by observing that:

"Turkey has improved its ability to take on the obligations of membership. In most areas some progress was made. However, fulfilment of short-term priorities under the Accession Partnership is lagging behind in many areas. "

"When assessing the overall alignment of Turkish legislation to the EU legal order clearly much remains to be done. Some areas related to internal market are fairly advanced, partly due to commitments under the Customs Union, such as the free movement of goods, customs, and trade."

"Alignment is also fairly advanced in areas like intellectual property law, antitrust, transport, enterprise and social policy. In other areas, alignment remained limited, particularly as regards services, capital movement, company law, agriculture, and environment. In most areas, much further improvement in the institutional and administrative capacity is needed to also implement the EU’s laws and standards."

"The EU will continue providing significant financial assistance to support Turkey. In 2006, EUR500 million pre-accession assistance is available for Turkey."

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