Turkey observes closely as EU leaders meet at summit
Ankara started watching when European Union leaders came together today and tomorrow in Brussels with a heavy agenda.
The leaders’ summit is expected to be discussing various issues, including restoring free movement and travel, the progress in the bloc’s jointly funded stimulus package and how to move forward on international corporate taxation and the bloc’s banking union.
What Turkey is watching will be the summit’s messages regarding the tensions in the Mediterranean, financial support for refugees in Turkey and the updating of the Customs Union deal between the two sides.
Turkey has repeatedly called on the EU to take concrete steps on the modernization of the Customs Union and migrant deal.
“Turkey has done more than what fell to itself and it is now the EU’s turn to take concrete steps,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen over a phone call late on June 21, adding that it is “high time for the implementation of a positive agenda with Turkey.”
Erdoğan also highlighted that the ensuring of visa liberalization was a step for which the Turkish people had waited for a long time.
Turkey and the EU in March 2016 signed a refugee deal that aimed to discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea by taking stricter measures against human traffickers and improving the conditions of nearly 4 million Syrian refugees in Turkey.
Turkey has said falling numbers of migrant crossings show it upheld its part of the deal, but the EU failed to keep its half, including visa liberalization and financial aid for refugees.
EU leaders will discuss financial support for refugees in Turkey at the summit, an EU official said on June 22.
“The president [of the European Commission] will engage with her partners in the European Council about the results of our work in relations to Turkey,” Dana Spinant, the deputy chief spokeswoman of the European Commission, told reporters.
Von der Leyen will brief the EU leaders on the development of the work at the summit.
“The discussion will also cover the support for migration, refugees that Turkey hosts, as well as other issues,” Spinant added.
On the Customs Union front, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on June 20 urged EU leaders to agree on a mandate that would authorize the EU Commission to negotiate the deal.
“The EU must now return to the table. We expect concrete steps from the EU,” Çavuşoğlu said while urging EU leaders to launch talks to upgrade the Customs Union agreement and renew the migrant deal in a way to meet the necessities of the current problems.
The modernization of the Customs Union agreement is not a political issue, and it is for the benefit of both parties, he stated.