Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wiseman Commission Rejects "Privileged Partnership"

Former President of Spain Felipe Gónzalez / AFP Photo from Hurriyet Daily News

The 12-member wise man commission French president Nikolas Sarkozy endeavored to setup in 2007 in part to frustrate Turkey's accession track has instead concluded that walking away from Turkey's accession process or talking "privileged partnership" at this stage is a betrayal that risks EU credibility. The commission was setup to assess where Europe should be in the year 2030, and among other things, included assessing enlargement and what Europe's borders might be. Chairing the commission, former Spanish president Felipe González argued that when the European Union concluded an accession partnership with Turkey, it made an agreement, and that Europe cannot backout of the agreement without seeking consent and a new understanding from Turkey without losing some of its credibility in the process. According to González, "If the European council believes it does not have sufficient margin for maneuver to complete negotiations with Turkey or any other country, something has to be agreed between both parties." The finding is a boost to accession advocates, and a slap in the face to Sarkozy, who is often cited here as the foremost European opponent of Turkish accession and with good reason. The commission concluded that Europe's borders should be based on shared values, and not on geography -- an argument Sarkozy has in the past, and continues, to reject.

In another victory for proponents of Turkish accession, an attempt by Christian Democrats in the European Parliament to insert the phrase "privileged partnership" into an important EU budget document was defeated by a coalition of Greens, Liberals, and Socialists this week.

UPDATE I (5/11) -- In a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule, Spanish Foreign Minister Ángel Moratinos vowed that Spain, currently holding the presidency of the European Union, would open up more negotiating chapters. Fule said the EU was working on opening up chapters on public procurement, social policy, employment and food security, in addition expressing that the EU may open chapters on energy, education, and culture. For background on where Turkey stands in terms of opening and closing chapters of the EU acquis (mainly behind thanks to the Cyprus stalemate), see Feb. 17 post.

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