On 25 November 2020, Italian Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Gianantonio Da Re of the Identity and Democracy Group posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:
“The author of this question has heard that, during the video conference of EU foreign ministers on 19 November, the Vice-President / High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated that we were approaching a watershed moment in our relationship with Turkey.
Mr Borrell also apparently stated: ‘It is important that Turkey understands that its behaviour is widening its separation from the European Union’, specifying that this opinion was shared by the Foreign Affairs Ministers taking part in the video conference.
The Vice-President / High Representative of the EU also stressed that ‘a fundamental change of attitude on the Turkish side’ would now be required.
Can the Vice-President / High Representative therefore answer the following questions:
Does he confirm the above-mentioned remarks made during the video conference with EU foreign ministers held on 19 November?
Does he not think that Turkey should lose its status as an EU candidate country once and for all?
Does he not think that the suspension of pre-accession fund payments should be considered at the next European Council on 10-11 December?”
On 4 February 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The remarks by the High Representative/Vice-President on Turkey at the Press Conference that followed the Video Conference of the Foreign Ministers of the EU Member States on 19 November 2020 can be consulted on the European External Action Service (EEAS) website.
While Turkey remains a candidate country and a key partner in many areas, on 18 June 2019 the Council noted that Turkey continued to move further away from the EU and accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill.
On 10 December 2020, the European Council reverted to its conclusions of 1-2 October 2020 on the EU’s relations with Turkey in light of the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. EU leaders reaffirmed the EU’s strategic interest in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey and stressed the importance of keeping channels of communication between the EU and Turkey open. The European Council invited the High Representative and the Commission to submit a report on the state of play concerning the EU-Turkey relations and on instruments and options on how to proceed at the latest at the March 2021 European Council.
The Commission has already significantly reduced EU financial support to Turkey for 2018-2020 through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) and reoriented funding towards civil society, democracy and the rule of law. A large part of EU assistance under these areas does not benefit the Turkish government but other beneficiaries, notably civil society organisations, students or researchers.”
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