Turkey set to sign customs protocol on Wednesday

1 min read

Turkey will sign the customs protocol on Wednesday, according to senior EU diplomats, and will thereby fulfil its last remaining condition for starting EU accession negotiations on October 3.

The signature is due to take place on the same day that Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan meets Tony Blair, prime minister of Britain, which currently holds the EU rotating presidency.

Signing the customs protocol means extending the EU-Turkey customs union to all new member states, including the Republic of Cyprus, which Turkey does not recognise.

Reports in the Greek Cypriot press suggest that Britain has been pushing Turkey to sign.

EU leaders are currently studying a proposal from the European Commission that sets out the ‘negotiating framework’ for Turkey, which must be agreed unanimously.

The Commission’s proposal includes a clause making it explicit that the talks will not necessarily end in EU membership.

Popular opposition to Turkey’s eventual EU membership in 10-15 years’ came to a head during the ratification debates on the EU Constitution in countries such as France.

A Eurobarometer poll last week showed that 52% of people in the EU are opposed to Turkey’s accession, with majorities of 70% and above in France, Germany and Austria.

Turkey has long dragged its feet over signing the protocol, fearing that it implies recognition of Cyprus. Turkey’s foreign ministry has still not confirmed whether the protocol will actually be signed on Wednesday.