Vienna, 6 October 2004 - "Without wanting to anticipate the EU Member States’ in-depth analysis and discussion, I regard the European Commission’s reports as informative documents", Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said after a preliminary examination of the papers submitted by the Commission. "I am of the opinion that the reports will represent a valuable basis for the decision to be taken at the European Council meeting on 17 December."
"As the progress report shows, Turkey still does not completely fulfil the Copenhagen political criteria, i.e. the obvious progress made in the field of legislation contrasts with a number of remaining clear deficits, mainly in the field of law enforcement, for instance", the Foreign Minister continued.
"The Commission has in fact recommended starting accession negotiations but is intent on ensuring a sustainable reform process. In its recommendations it therefore provides for the opportunity of suspending the negotiations in the event of grave and persistent violations of human rights and fundamental democratic freedoms.
" The impact study, which was prepared on Austria’s initiative and which assesses the effects of Turkey’s accession on the European Union and its Member States, also contains clear indications of problems and risks, especially in the fields of migration, free movement of persons and freedom of establishment. "Naturally, we will pay special attention to the financial effects, too - particularly with respect to agriculture and the structural funds. The taking up of negotiations with Turkey must under no circumstances weaken the impetus of the integration process. These justified concerns are partly taken account of in the European Commission’s recommendations and conclusions, for instance by considering very long transitional periods for some areas or - as in the case of free movement of labour - even permanent safeguards. In view of the many imponderable factors it is interesting that even the Commission points out that the negotiation process with Turkey is by its very nature an open-ended process whose outcome cannot be guaranteed beforehand."
Concluding, Ferrero-Waldner welcomed the European Commission’s intention to present an in-depth analysis of the effects and impacts of Turkey’s potential EU accession.