Magazine article European Social Policy

Croatia/turkey : Accession Talks Run into Early Political Difficulties

Magazine article European Social Policy

Croatia/turkey : Accession Talks Run into Early Political Difficulties

Article excerpt

Moves to open Croatia's and Turkey's EU membership negotiations on education and culture are being held up by French-led calls to put greater emphasis on the broader political entry criteria.

The European Commission said on February 14 the two countries were ready to start talks on education and culture, but by 28 March member states were still to take the step of asking the Austrian EU Presidency to invite the candidates to submit their negotiating positions. The invitation has already been sent for science and research, paving the way for the start of membership negotiations proper.

Sources say France - evidently cautious about further EU enlargement - supported by others including Cyprus and Greece, has called for a reference to be made in the Presidency's letter to the political membership criteria, which require aspiring EU members to achieve 'stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities'.

But some member states are against the move, saying the political criteria should not be mixed up in this way with detailed negotiations on the EU's acquis communautaire, or body of law. One view is that there would be other fora and other more appropriate chapters' of the talks to deal with political criteria, such as the chapter on judiciary and fundamental rights'.

Diplomats said one possible compromise might be to somehow reflect the French concerns in the cover note of the COREPER text asking the Presidency to send out the letter. …

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