Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/turkey : Gul: Reform Process to Kick into High Gear after Elections

Magazine article Europe-East

Eu/turkey : Gul: Reform Process to Kick into High Gear after Elections

Article excerpt

Visiting for the first time the European Commission in his capacity as Turkey's President, Abdullah Gul has pledged that his country would step up a gear in the EU-related reforms after the upcoming local elections, scheduled for end of March. "I hope that my visit here is going to be important in bringing about greater impetus and momentum to the Turkey's accession process after the election," Gul said, on 26 March, at a joint press conference with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. The statement came after prolonged stalemate in Turkey's accession talks, with no new chapters being opened or closed since December 2008.

The reforms necessary for two chapters to be opened in the first half of 2009 - on social policy and employment (chapter 19) and taxation (16) - have been stalled due to the country's local elections, scheduled for 29 March. "The progress in Turkey's accession talks has been frozen for last couple of months," an EU diplomat told Europolitics New Neighbours. "We expect that after the elections, Turkey will move forward with reforms in order to open the two planned chapters," he added. But for this to happen, Turkey has to adopt unpopular and politically and socially painful reforms, including a new law on trade unions (chapter 19) and an action plan on substantially reducing the discriminatory taxation of alcoholic products, imported tobacco and imported cigarettes (chapter 16).

Commenting on Turkey's progress in accession talks, Barroso stated the country still has a chance to move forward by the end of June. …

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