Members of the European institutions decided to hold another E.U.-Turkey Association Council meeting in Brussels next Friday, on 15 March 2019. The summit will resume direct talks between the two parties after a temporary four-year break.
The Association Council represents the highest executive authority in Europe so far which comes in direct contact with the Turkish delegation. It represents the single and most important mechanism to continue institutional dialogue – an open line of communication – with the Turkish authorities. The meeting will be co-chaired by the E.U. Foreign Policy head Federica Mogherini and Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The meeting will also be attended by the E.U. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Johannes Hahn. The agenda of discussions will revolve around bilateral relations and central themes in the Balkans, the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
More specifically, issues under discussion will centre on visa liberalisation scheme for Turkish citizens to acquire free travel rights within the Single Market Area, potential inclusion of Ankara in the European Customs Union, and the role of two stakeholders in the combat against the expansion of transnational terrorism. This would be the 54th meeting of the E.U.-Turkey Association Council. The last meeting was held on 18 May 2015 in Brussels. The Association Council was established under the provisions of the Ankara Agreement, ratified by the European Community and Turkey on 1st December 1964. The Ankara Agreement represents the leading diplomatic document establishing cooperation ties between the two counterparts.
It has to be noted at this stage that Turkey has applied for EU membership since 1987 and preliminary accession talks initiated in 2005. Since then, Turkey’s accession path to the E.U. has been interrupted. There are multiple reasons explaining this development besides Ankara’s meddling with regional disputes, particularly in Greece and Cyprus. For example, several constituents in Germany and France have more vocally expressed their opposition to Turkey becoming a full-fledged E.U. member in the near future.