According to Kronenthal et al., a new Member State must undergo the accession process to become an official member of the European Union. The fifth enlargement of the EU put in place guides this process. The new members are guided in the process of transition, reforms, adoption and implementation of the community law. Article 49 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) legally allows any interested member to join the Union. The conditions are that the member must fulfill the principles of the article that are based on freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
Any new Member State is expected to submit a formal application to the European council. Prior to this, the interested state needs to consult the Commission and the European Parliament to give out an opinion after discussion by its members (Kronenthal et al., 27). The European Council then comes into a valid decision on whether to accept or reject the application. The applicant country must establish a formal agreement with the Member States on the rules for accession and adopt the treaties outlined in the accession. The signatory State must adhere to the Accession Treaty formed.
Kronenthal et al., states that any applicant joining the EU must adhere to the Copenhagen or accession criteria put in papers by the European Commission (pg. 82). The Copenhagen criteria was formulated in 1993 and includes of:
- Political criteria which requires applicants to safeguard democracy, human rights, rule of law and minority protection
- Economic criteria that requires the new signatories to ensure availability of a viable market and control of the forces in competitive markets
- Member states subscription to the EU’s political, economic and monetary aims.
In additional, the absorption capacity of the union is vital in the process of enlargement. This is because members are only integrated during the enlargement process. The ability of the EU to integrate the new members seeks for the opinion from its members and the applicants.
When the applicant country fulfills the criteria, the negotiations may start. The Council has a mandate to reach a decision concerning the negotiations (Kronenthal et al., 79). The Accession negotiations aim at preparing the new member states to meet the expected obligations in line with the EU.
The Accession negotiations contain two major elements:
The Commission conducts a thorough examination with the applicant's country of every chapter to assert the readiness of the country. The commission thereafter presents a screening report
2. Negotiating positions
The candidate country ensures that they take a position on the negotiations and the EU adopts its stand.
The negotiations end up by closing the chapters, after which the accession treaty is signed, and the acceding country qualifies to be a member of the European Union.
Turkey’s EU accession
Bogdani states that Turkey was an associate member of EU since 1963 (pg. 25). In April 1987, the nation applied for membership in the EEC (European Economic Community) but the European commission put the application on hold. it cited Turkey’s massive violation of human rights, failure of democracy, poor relations with Greece and Cyprus, and the political and economic situation in turkey as the main reasons. However, the commission reaffirmed membership as the eventual goal and devoted itself towards transforming the country so that it could meet all the EU entry requirements. In the 1997 Luxembourg European Council, such a position was confirmed again but talks were started with Cyprus and eastern and central European states (Bogdani, 98). Luckily, for turkey, in 1999 during the Helsinki European Council, the EU recognized Turkey as a potential candidate just like any other state.
In December 2002, the EU declared that it would start negotiations with turkey if the December 2004 European Council will decide that Turkey satisfies the Copenhagen political conditions. The negotiations were to start in 2005. Turkey’s bid to join the EU became livelier on third October 2005 when the accession negotiations were opened. However, its long-term prospects for EU remained unclear (Susannah & Kostas, 12). However, Ankara was disappointed since Turkey did not succeed since it had not met all the requirements and criteria laid out in the negotiation framework. It had to create a functioning market economy, solve its boundary disputes peacefully, and commit itself to good neighborly relations, create well-established bodies that guarantee respect for the minority, democracy and the rule of law.
According to Susannah & Kostas, Germany and Austria still wanted Turkey to join the EU for their own self-interests but that was only possible if Turkey changed it's constitution (pg. 15). The matter of Cyprus endures being the main hindrance in the negotiations. Due to this, in March 2007, Olli Rehn, EU’s Enlargement Commissioner, warned that the talks would crash. A major slowdown came in December 2006 when the EU freeze 8 of the 35 areas under discussion (Bogdani, 105).
Cyprus republic blocked 6 sections of Turkish concurrence negotiations in December 2009 arguing that turkey had to normalize its association with Cyprus (Susannah & Kostas, 19). These chapters include those on education, culture, energy, judiciary and fundamental rights. This placed a limitation on the amount of chapters that turkey could open for the negotiation process to continue. Burak Erdenir, Turkish minister in charge of EU affairs, stated that the EU was yet to communicate to Turkey the criteria for opening the eight areas that it had frozen. Susannah & Kostas states that this as a deliberate endeavor to slow the accession of turkey (pg. 13). Turkey is still striving to join the EU despite the massive internal and external challenges facing it. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan lingers to improve the country’s condition hoping that they will once join the EU.
Bogdani, Mirela. Turkey and the Dilemma of Eu Accession: When Religion Meets Politics. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. Print.
Kronenthal, Melissa, Miriam Meyerhoff, and John Joseph. Policy, Planning and Perceptions in the European Union: A Comparative Perspective on Minority Language Vitality. , 2007. Internet resource.
Susannah Verney and Kostas Ifantis. "TURKEY'S ROAD TO EUROPEAN UNION MEM: National Identity and Political Change." Google Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2014. http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=RRvcAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA11&lpg=PA11&dq=the+long+road+to+turkey%27s+European+union+accession&source=bl&ots=1DmMyMnKqX&sig=0XURhuY-uKujBTs5k0umX3wGfCM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=OLcvU83yIqmp0QWygoGgDQ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=the%20long%20road%20to%20turkey%27s%20European%20union%20accession&f=false