EU-Turkey Association Council convenes for 50th meeting

June 20, 2012, Wednesday/ 15:19:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

The EU-Turkey Association Council, which was established under the scope of the Ankara Agreement signed in 1963 and which aimed at creating a customs union between Turkey and the European Economic Community (EEC) -- the precursor to the EU, will come together for its 50th annual meeting on Friday.

The council is the highest decision-making body for relations between the EU and Turkey. The Turkish delegation at the meeting will be headed by Turkish EU Affairs Minister and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış while Danish European Affairs Minister Nicolai Wammen will represent the EU Council and Commissioner for Enlargement, and European Neighborhood Policy Stefan Füle will represent the European Commission.

The topics that will be covered in the meeting include the progress of the European Commission-led “positive agenda,” Turkey's progress on the acquis communautaire criteria and visa liberalization -- which is the subject of a long-standing dispute between Turkey and the EU. During the meeting, the Turkish side is planning to deliver its demands on speeding up the procedures of visa removal, being included in the consulting and decision-making of customs unions and the lifting of other political barriers to Turkey's EU integration track.

According to the customs union agreement, Turkey needs to negotiate a separate free trade agreement (FTA) with any country that the EU already has an FTA with because although it is currently in a customs union with the EU, Turkey does not have any say in the decision-making mechanisms of the EU's customs regulations.

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