The European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee has called on the European Commission and Member States to formally suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey because of bad records in numerous areas. The Committee voted on the Commission’s Annual Report on the situation in Turkey. Among a lot of other issues wrong with Turkey in the report, corruption “remains prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem…the track record of investigation, prosecution and conviction in corruption cases remains poor, particularly regarding high-level corruption cases”.

“The relation between Turkey and the EU needs to be redefined in terms of an effective partnership”, said Renate Sommer MEP, the EPP Group’s Spokeswoman on Turkey. She added that the partnership should be “notably based on the Customs Union, the cooperation on shared geo-political challenges and political issues of common interest. However, we insist that any renewed political engagement between the EU and Turkey should be built on key conditionality provisions concerning respect for democracy, the rule of law and fundamental rights.”

The major issues are the disregard of human rights and civil liberties, the political influence on the justiciary and the unresolved territorial dispute with Cyprus and other neighbouring countries.

“We call in particular on Turkey to commit and contribute to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus question, to resolve legal obligations and unsettled disputes with all its neighbours and to respect their territorial integrity and sovereignty”, concluded Sommer.

In October 2018, the European Parliament already decided to cancel €70 million of IPA pre-accession funds to Turkey because the conditions to improve democracy and the rule of law were not met. Those funds are different from the money that the EU has earmarked for the facility for refugees in Turkey to help Ankara deal with the large number of Syrian refugees. The Members of the Foreign Affairs Committee are now calling for money from the IPA funds to be reallocated to support Turkish civil society, such as human rights activists and journalists.