Ankara has failed to meet requirements to open the competition chapter in its negotiations with the EU. The European Commission had requested clear deadlines to finalize the state aid portion, which Ankara prefers to keep in general terms due to its economic plans
Turkey and the European Union have failed to open the competition chapter in Ankara’s accession negotiations during Belgium’s EU term presidency, which will conclude at the end of this year.
The European Commission was not satisfied with the preparatory work for benchmarks that would enable the opening of the chapter, Turkish diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Tuesday. According to experts who wished to remain anonymous, Turkey was unwilling to assume strict obligations on the issue of state aid due to its economic program, especially in the period leading up to next year’s general elections.
In October, Ankara ratified the EU-required law on “Monitoring and Supervising State Aid,” which sets out general conditions and rules for authorization, implementation, monitoring and recovery of state aid in accordance to bilateral agreements between Turkey and the European Union. The Turkish government, however, failed to fulfill other requirements to open the competition chapter.
Among the other benchmarks, the commission had asked Ankara to present an action plan with a timetable for aligning all remaining aid schemes or equivalent measures. The commission was not satisfied with the plan Ankara provided and requested clarification.
“We had to provide an inventory of state aid that had been given so far, including details such as where it had been spent,” one anonymous source told the Daily News. “However the European Commission was not satisfied, saying that the information was not clear enough.”
In free-market conditions, state aid should be restricted in order to protect competition, but developing counties such as Turkey can use the aid for public benefit. “Turkey is in a pre-election period, and also in a period of accelerating economic growth,” one expert said. “Turkey has engaged in the short- and medium-term with the European Commission on general deadlines on state aid, but the commission requested specific dates.”
Economic officials in Ankara prefer to not assume obligations over state aid, the Daily News has learned.
Ankara also needed to establish a “State Aid Monitoring and Supervision Board,” which is planned under the auspices of the Undersecretary of the Treasury. However, no one has yet been appointed to the board, sources said.
The earliest the competition chapter could now be opened would be in January 2011, during Hungary’s EU term presidency. The Belgian presidency will be the second, after Finland, to conclude without Turkey opening a single new negotiating chapter. Belgium wants to include a note in the declaration of the upcoming EU Summit that says the preparations for the competition chapter with Turkey were almost ready.
According to diplomatic sources, two chapters – on public procurement and competition policy – could potentially be opened in the near future. Other chapters are blocked for political reasons due to the Cyprus dispute.
Source : Hurriyet Daily News