[A-List] UK resists EU curb on Turkey
soncu at pacbell.net
Wed Oct 6 03:41:50 MDT 2004
UK resists EU curb on Turkey
David Gow in Brussels
Wednesday October 6, 2004
Britain will oppose European commission moves to impose permanent curbs on
Turkish workers migrating to other areas of the EU as a key part of any
agreement to admit the country to the union, a foreign office minister said
Denis MacShane, the minister for Europe, said that on the eve of today's
expected commission recommendation for starting Turkish entry negotiations,
Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, would make the UK's opposition clear,
during a visit to Ankara and Istanbul.
Günter Verheugen, the enlargement commissioner, and his proposed successor,
Olli Rehn, have already indicated that a permanent safety clause, to prevent
"instability" in other European labour markets, should be inserted - the
first time such a curb has been considered in any accession agreement since
Britain, Ireland and Denmark joined the union in 1973.
There are estimated to be 3.8 million Turkish migrants living in the EU,
with 2.6 million of these in Germany, where public opinion is hostile to
A recent report by an independent commission, chaired by the former Finnish
president Martti Ahtisaari, suggested that, at most, 2.7 million more, or
0.5%, of the EU's population, would work or settle in other EU countries in
the long term.
Mr MacShane said that it was unacceptable to consider a permanent
restriction on the free movement of Turkish workers when entry negotiations,
expected to last until 2015 or later, had not even begun. Ankara has already
sharply criticised the idea.
"I would really cross that bridge when we get to it," he said, urging that
Turkey be allowed to open accession talks "in good faith and on the same
basis as any other country".
Unlike Britain, which has placed no restrictions, Germany has wrested a
seven-year transitional period over the free movement of workers from the
Czech Republic, Poland and others of the 10 new member states that joined in
The independent commission estimates that by about 2020 Turkey's population
may have overtaken that of Germany's, making it the largest state in the EU
with about 85 million people. The commission claimed that Turkish migration
could help revitalise other EU economies.
Mr MacShane said: "By 2020 Europe's ageing population may be such that
people will want young, educated Turks to work in the rest of the EU ... the
Turkey which joins then will be a very different country and the process of
the entry negotiations should promote as radical a reform process as that
initiated by Ataturk."
A large majority of the 30 European commissioners is likely to advise the
next European summit (to be held on December 17), that entry negotiations
start swiftly, even though a report before them says "deficiencies remain"
and "political reform needs to be further consolidated and broadened". The
report says Turkey has "sufficiently fulfilled" the political criteria
despite its record on torture, religious freedom and violence.
Another proposed "safety" clause recommends that entry talks be broken off
if Turkey's reforms falter, notably with regard to human rights.
Some commissioners oppose Turkish entry because they fear the largely Muslim
and poor country will lead an "Islamicisation" of the EU and prove an
unbearable burden on its budget. An "economic impact assessment" drawn up by
EU officials puts the latter at up to €28bn a year by 2025.
The commission, meanwhile, will also recommend that Bulgaria and Romania
join by 2007, if reforms are implemented. But Chris Davies, the leader of
Liberal Democrat MEPs, said that Romania was further from meeting the key
political criteria than Turkey was at the present time.
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