The European Commission on April 17 is scheduled to publish its annual report on how much progress Turkey and other European Union candidate countries have made towards aligning their rules and regulations with those in the EU.
As regards Turkey’s bid to join the EU, excerpts of the report, first published by Germany’s Welt am Sonntag and confirmed to Reuters by EU officials, showed the Commission concluded there was no basis for opening negotiations on new aspects of EU membership, meaning the process remained frozen.
“There is massive backsliding away from the European Union,” one EU official involved in the report told Reuters.
Warning of huge reverses on so-called fundamental freedoms such as the right to a fair trial and free speech, the report is set to continue the harsher tone the Commission adopted in its 2014 report, when it first raised concerns about the independence of Turkish judges.
Turkey, a member of the Nato military alliance, began talks to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying.
As reported by Reuters, Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France are the two issues that have slowed negotiations. Also, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his purge of police, judges, teachers and other officials since a coup attempt in 2016 has worsened Turkey’s prospects dramatically.
In a separate report, Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, noted that this year’s report will be the “most damning evaluation yet” even though it will praise Turkey on two fronts.
The first is its cooperation with the EU to reduce the illegal and very dangerous crossings in the Mediterranean. The other is for its “functioning market economy,” which the report described as “well-advanced”.