Thursday, 1 March 2012

Turkey, The EU & The Law Of Diminishing Returns

The EU and Turkey will gain from closer ties, given their mutual dependence, Turkey's economic potential and its role as a strategic player in the region, said the European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, in a resolution adopted by a large majority on Thursday. However, it calls on Turkey to settle the Cyprus, Armenia and Kurdish issues and for progress with judicial reform and the protection of civil liberties.

MEPs support the fresh, new dynamic approach adopted by the Commission and aimed at moving Turkey closer to meeting the conditions for EU accession; an issue likely to polarise popular opinion across the EU.

European Parliament President, Martin Schultz, today underlined the critical need to underpin the accession process with an unwavering rule of law. Criticising the seemingly arbitrary approach taken with Romania and Bulgaria in implementing the Schengen agreement, Schultz, speaking at the European Council Summit, said if countries reach the thresholds required for accession, they should be allowed to progress unimpeded. He also used the Summit platform to emphasise the need for opposition to racism, in particular, opposition to the Dutch anti-immigration PVV's website.

Joining the dots, Europe has a migraine headache just waiting for the light of day. The choice, when the moment arrives, will be the accession of an increasingly Islamic Turkey to the European Union by compulsion of the rule of law; or the exclusion of Turkey from full EU membership for fear of popular revolt and a disengagement by more radical regions from the European project.

Schultz was repeatedly asked about the belligerence of the Hungarian government and its budgetary conundrum. Striking a conciliatory note, Schultz emphasised the need to think very carefully about the overall impact of withdrawing EU funds from Hungary as a means to force compliance with a new fiscal direction.

Migraine is usually preceded by the sight of small flashing white dots. Schultz will soon be reaching for political Nurofen as economic imperatives collide with cultural identity - Europe needs better trade relations with Turkey and its neighbours, but many Europeans see only as far as their back yard and the risk of yet more immigrants climbing over the fence; and if Europe cannot cajole a hardline Hungary, what prospect does it have to Westernise an East-looking Turkey?


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