Not if people like single market commissioner Frits Bolkestein gets his way they aren’t. According to the FT the European Commission is expected to say on October 6 that Turkey has reformed enough for membership negotiations to begin. If this happens EU leaders will then decide in December whether to endorse those conclusions and when to start the talks with Ankara. Mr Bolkestein seems to have problems with this:
A senior European commissioner has warned against the “Islamisation” of Europe, casting doubt on Turkey’s drive to join the European Union at a crucial time for its campaign for membership.
Frits Bolkestein, the outgoing single market commissioner, made the comments as his colleague G?nter Verheugen, the enlargement commissioner, visited Turkey ahead of a key Commission report next month on the country’s preparations for joining the EU.
In his comments, circulated by the Commission yesterday, Mr Bolkestein said Europe would be “Islamised” because of demographic and migration changes. He added that if this occured, “the liberation of Vienna [from the Turks] in 1683 would have been in vain”.
Source: Financial Times
Mr Bolkestein’s problem would therefore not appear to be connected with the legitimate question as to whether Turkey is, or is not, complying with EU criteria on human rights, treatment of minorities etc, but with something which sounds remarkably like an objection in principle. In this sense it is noteworthy as it is clearly a somewhat crude expression of a much broader popular sentiment which Europe’s responsible political leaders need to do much more to combat. My interpretation of the above statement is not altered by the clarification from a spokesperson that the commissioner does “not oppose the accession of Turkey to the EU”, which I take to be spin in the face of what must otherwise be considered in Commission terms a diplomatic gaffe, since if he is not opposed to membership then what the hell is he talking about?
And, oh yes, don’t miss the point about demographic trends. I hazard to suggest that this is going to be the topic of the decade, both economically and politically.