Safeguarding Turkish Accession

The Dutch EU presidency seems to be putting the finishing touches to the summit preparations for 15/16 December. One of the major items on the agenda: decision time on opening negotiations with Ankara about Turkey’s EU membership.

According to the Financial Times today the draft document circulated by the Dutch government to other EU governments contains two key recommendations, namely that:

talks can be concluded only after a new EU long-term budget is agreed ?for the period from 2014, which should entail a structural reform of funding and expenditure of the EU?.


the EU should consider ?permanent safeguard clauses, notably in the area of the free movement of persons?.
Source Financial Times

The first of these conditions is hardly unexpected given the scale of Turkish agriculture, and anyway the long-term budget structure would be an issue even without Turkish accession.

The second might be regarded as much more problematic. Certainly it will be seen in Ankara as creating a kind of second class citizenship, and certainly it could be seen as a sop to those who claim to fear a cultural invasion. There has, of course, already been a precedent in this area in relation to the freedom of movement of citizens of the recent east European accession countries. The FT suggests that the terms of the condition will be that the freedom of movement “safeguards” could be triggered if there was a serious risk of labour market disruption in an EU member state. Since, come 2014, I believe that the principal labour market disruptions the EU member states will be facing will come from shortages of young workers, and since I doubt that by this time Turkey will still be an important origin source of would be migrants (since its own demography is stabilising), I think this safeguard will remain hollow. As such, my feeling is that if this kind of condition is what is necessary to get the negotiations rolling, then better accept it and get on with things.

Perhaps it should be added that these ‘conditions’ are in addition to the ongoing reform process being monitored by the Commission (which has already given a green light to opening negotiations), a reform process which we have already discussed at Afoe on numerous occassions.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

3 thoughts on “Safeguarding Turkish Accession

  1. But the free movement of labour is one of the core reasons why the EU is a good thing. And if i read permanent i doubt that they are talking about seven years, which in my not so humble opinions was already wrong

  2. Would not permanent safe-guards also largely gut the idea of european citizenship? To my mind that would be a horrible mistake. I hope it won’t come to that. Perhaps it would even be better to not let Turkey in than to allow it to so warp what seems to my (foreign) eyes to be great progress, but I’d much rather people suck things up and treat the Turks like full human beings.

  3. I still do not think there ever will be a ‘shortage of young workers’ – and that if yes, older workers can fill in. (And if older workers really have less productivity, more older people will do it for less pay – reducing jobless benefit payouts in the process.)

    On the other hand, this permanent free moving clause is crap indeed. If anything, the language barrier will limit much excess Turkish immigration into the EU-25 above what already exists.

    Elsewhere: in a recent meeting of the two PMs, Spain’s Zapatero agreed to reduce the seven-year free moving moratorium for Hungarians to two years (that is until 1 May 2006).

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