Whatever European Union Foreign Ministers decide about Turkey over the weekend, the real debate about enlargement is only just beginning.

This may appear paradoxical, more than a year after the completion of the EU's biggest ever expansion, and on the eve of momentous decisions about the next stage of enlargement. But reflection is still needed and urgently.

This weekend's emergency ministerial meeting is the result of a slow accident: the inability of member states across some forty years to agree on - or even to effectively discuss - possible Turkish membership of the EU. But time has run out. Turkey expects to open accession negotiations on October 3, and the EU must now say "yes" or "no".

If Austria withdraws its veto, negotiations will start on time. If it doesn't, negotiations may start late, and maybe in a modified framework, or maybe will be deferred indefinitely. But either way, debate and quality debate - is needed, as never before.

The most obvious reason is that Turkey itself is quite evidently - one of the most contentious subjects the EU now faces. It not only splits the member states, and their decision-makers and opinion-formers. Opinion polls indicate that it is also deeply unpopular among many EU citizens. So whether negotiations go ahead or not, there is an obvious...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT