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Brussels, 16 May 2012

EU-Turkey: Commissioner Štefan Füle to launch positive agenda

Brussels (16th May) - Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle will visit Ankara on Thursday to launch the positive agenda in EU-Turkey relations. "We want to trigger a new virtuous circle in EU-Turkey relations," Mr Füle said before leaving Brussels. "The positive agenda is not to replace, but to provide new momentum to Turkey's accession process. The objective of the positive agenda is to make concrete progress in a number of areas of joint interest where such progress is both needed and feasible." Some of the priorities include bringing Turkey's legislation closer in line with the EU's; working jointly on foreign policy challenges like Syria; cooperating more intensively on energy issues; or making travel of Turkish citizens to the EU easier.

The Commission's proposed the new positive agenda in its Progress Report on Turkey last October and it was endorsed by the EU Member States at the Council in December 2011. Its goal is to give new momentum to reforms in Turkey and to enhance cooperation in a number of crucial areas of common interest, in the framework of Turkey's accession negotiation process with the EU.

The positive agenda will focus on political reforms to enhance fundamental rights in Turkey (including work on the new constitution); further alignment with the acquis – i.e. the EU policies and legislation; visa, mobility and migration; energy; trade and the customs union; participation in EU programmes; counter-terrorism; foreign policy dialogue.

Turkey and the Commission have agreed to set up a first list of 8 working groups devoted each to a specific chapter of the acquis, where Turkey will be offered support and guidance to intensify efforts for further alignment with the EU legislation.

Commissioner Füle will launch the positive agenda at a joint event with the Turkish Minister for EU affairs and Chief negotiator Egemen Bağış. The Commissioner will then chair the first meeting of the working group on Judiciary and fundamental rights (chapter 23) together with Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin. He will also meet with the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the leader of the opposition, chairman of the Republican People's Party (CHP) Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. Commissioner Füle will also discuss the positive agenda and Turkey ´s accession process with the representatives of the civil society organisations active on human rights and fundamental freedoms since the inclusion and support of civil society and political parties is essential for the successful implementation of the positive agenda.

Commissioner Füle already spoke about these issues, notably about modernising the Customs Union, with the Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan at the event organised by the Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists of Turkey (TUSKON) on Tuesday night in Brussels where he also delivered a speech about EU-Turkey relations in the context of the positive agenda.

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