People in Turkey are getting nervous. If French voters reject the Consitution Treaty later this month, it will be for a whole string of reasons, none of which necessarily are related to any of the others. Some will vote against the treaty because it is perceived as removing sovereignty too much, others because they feel it leaves too much room for national sovereignty (the ‘social dumping’ debate). But possibly ‘no’ voters hold one view in common: they don’t like the idea of Turkey joining the EU.
Now many of the consequences of a ‘no’ vote – if ‘no’ vote there be – are unforseeable. But one distinct possibility would be that among the items contained in the ‘plan B’ rescue package would be a proposal to review the state of play with the Turkey accession process. This possibility is exercising the mind of Morgan Stanley’s Serhan Cevic no end. Mine to. Full declaration: I support Turkey’s *eventual* membership of the EU.
Cevic’s argument is straight forward enough:
“The constitution?s fate has no direct relevance to Turkey?s accession talks. No EU institution has a right to alter the December 17 decision to start membership talks with Turkey on October 3, as long as Turkey fulfils the remaining two requirements ? the ratification of the new penal code and the extension of the association agreement to cover new EU members ? and, of course, the EU does not collapse. The European Commission has already made it clear that Turkey?s accession talks are not conditional to the ratification of the European constitution. Furthermore, even if the EU decides to abandon the constitutional treaty, there would be sufficient time to amend existing treaties to keep the accession process on track.”
Many the strongest of his arguments here is that the whole credibility of the EU as an institutional structure would be put into question by any tampering with the Turkey accession process in the light of gridlock over the constitution. Remember that since the enlargement to 25 the two most important initiatives agreed to have been: the constitution treaty and opening negotiations with Turkey.