Members of the European Parliament will today take a secret vote on whether negotiations should begin with Turkey on EU membership. This ahead of tomorrow’s opening of a two-day summit in Brussels at which leaders will make the final decision. Observers say a majority of MEPs are expected to vote in favour of opening membership talks with Ankara.
“The vote is very important politically,” the president of the European Parliament Josep Borrell told Euronews. “At the moment the vote is only consultative. The Council of Europe could very well ignore the parliament’s vote. But at the end of the process – understanding that we open and end the process – the last word is with the parliament.”
Diplomats are reported as saying it seems likely leaders will agree that talks be opened with Turkey towards the end of next year, despite public opposition in many countries. The go-ahead is expected to be on condition, however, that the process is open-ended. The Turkish Prime Minister was quoted as saying yesterday that Ankara would accept nothing less than talks aimed at leading to full membership of the bloc.
He said he wanted a negotiation period, which would not need a second decision, and he would not accept new criteria. Officials in Ankara have voiced anger about some members’ attempts to devise a possible alternative to full membership. Negotiations will require a transformation of Turkey’s economy and society, way beyond the political and human rights reforms already undertaken.