EU External Polcy

Turkey To Relaunch European Union Membership Bid With Economic Talks

Turkey To Relaunch European Union Membership Bid With Economic Talks

Turkey’s Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek speaks during an interview with Reuters in New Delhi February 24, 2015. (REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/Files)

BRUSSELS/ANKARA:  European Union foreign ministers are set today to revive Turkey’s efforts to join the bloc by agreeing to open talks on the EU’s financial rules, as part of a bigger deal to help Europe solve its migration crisis.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, in Brussels for the opening of a new accession chapter with the European Union, said he expected quick progress on bringing Ankara in line with the EU’s economic and monetary policy, despite concerns about central bank independence in Turkey.

“Turkey does not have major shortcomings regarding this chapter,” Simsek, who is also in charge of the economy in the new Turkish government, told a news conference.

 The opening of the so-called chapter 17, one of 35 in the EU’s membership talks, marks not just the first formal discussions since 2013 but what many in Brussels see as a fresh start for EU-Turkey ties after years of uneasy relations.

Underlying that change is Turkey’s promise to help stem the flow of migrants to Europe in return for cash, visas and renewed talks on joining the European Union, to which Ankara formally started its membership talks a year ago.

France’s minister for European affairs, Harlem Desir, said he expected to see a “willingness to implement reforms in Turkey that contribute to the modernisation of Turkish society, the Turkish economy”.

The decision to open the chapter on economic and monetary policy comes at a time of concern from investors over whether the programme of Turkey’s new government will curtail central bank independence.

In May, during the European Union’s yearly economy review of Turkey’s EU candidacy, EU finance ministers expressed displeasure at President Tayyip Erdogan’s demands for lower interest rates.

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