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European Commission - Press release

VP Kallas seeks stronger EU-Turkey cooperation on transport

Brussels, 16 May 2012 - The Commission Vice-President responsible for transport, Siim Kallas visited Ankara to enhance transport cooperation between the EU and Turkey. In line with the Commission "positive agenda", Vice-President Kallas discussed the establishment of a roadmap for EU transport relations with Turkey, including regular high-level meetings and the establishment of a structured dialogue with Turkish authorities.

The development of EU-Turkey transport cooperation is very important due to its strategic geographical position at the crossroad between Europe and Middle East and Caucasus, its candidate status and growing market for transport services. During the visit, Vice-President Kallas met the Ministers responsible for Foreign Affairs, EU Affairs and Transport, as well as major transport stakeholders.

"The talks covered the future of our partnership for all transport modes" said Vice-President Kallas. "The successful dialogue on aviation last April in Istanbul has been a positive first step towards stronger cooperation. We want to achieve full integration of Turkey into the EU aviation system as soon as possible in order to provide both Turkish and EU citizens with more connections and cheaper and safer flights".

At this aviation dialogue both sides decided to work together towards the objective of a fully integrated aviation system. In this respect the commonly agreed priorities are to further progress in the field of safety, in particular through the strengthening of Turkey's relationship with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), as well as to advance in the implementation of the Single European Sky (SES).

As an essential step to enhance EU-Turkey relations in the field of aviation, two sides will sign the Horizontal Agreement agreed in March 2010, which will bring all existing bilateral air services agreements between Member States and Turkey in line with Community laws.

Vice President Kallas also participated in the ground breaking ceremony of the Irmak-Karabuk-Zonguldak Railway Line, the largest contract ever funded by the EU in Turkey (€ 188 million). Thanks to this project, the north-south freight connection from the Turkish Western Black Sea region to Europe will be modernised. The project is funded under Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance dedicated to the development of infrastructure in the EU candidate countries.

Background Information

Positive Agenda

The new Positive Agenda was mentioned for the first time in October 2011 in the regular report on enlargement published by the European Commission. This new approach is not to replace, but to complement, the accession process and to enable the development of a more constructive and positive relationship between the EU and Turkey. Alongside the accession negotiations, the Commission intends to enhance its cooperation with Turkey in support of the country's efforts to pursue reforms and align with the acquis, including on chapters such as transport where accession negotiations cannot be opened for the time being.

Current status of negotiations on transport

Turkey has opened accession negotiations with the EU in 2005. The transport chapter is among 8 chapters that cannot be opened until Turkey meets its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional protocol to the Association Agreement. In spite of this, cooperation on transport between the EU and Turkey is already quite intensive in particular in the areas of aviation and infrastructure development.

EU - Turkey key dates

  • September 1963 – Signature of the association agreement (known as the Ankara Agreement), aiming at bringing Turkey into a Customs Union with the EEC and to eventual membership.

  • April 1987 - Turkey applies for full membership to the EEC.

  • December 1999 - Turkey obtains status of an EU candidate country.

  • October 2005 - Opening of accession negotiations with Turkey.

  • December 2006 - The Council decides that 8 negotiating chapters (including Transport) cannot be opened and no chapter can be closed until Turkey meets its obligation of full, non-discriminatory implementation of the additional protocol to the Association Agreement.

  • March 2010 – Turkey and the European Commission initial Horizontal Agreement in Aviation.

  • April 2012 – first Aviation Dialogue meeting.

Contacts :

Helen Kearns (+32 2 298 76 38)

Dale Kidd (+32 2 295 74 61)

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