EU approves opening of talks on new chapter 32 months
The EU officially agreed to open talks on a new chapter, ending a two-and-a-half-year hiatus in the accession talks. The EU's Permanent Representatives Committee (COREPER), convening in Brussels, cleared the way for talks on Chapter 22 on Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments and sent an official approval letter to the Turkish side. Diplomatic sources in Turkey have announced that Turkey's action plan is ready and it will be communicated to Brussels "in a few days." According to same sources, the talks on Chapter 22 shall begin in June, before the current Irish presidency of the EU ends as of July 1. After 32 months, the EU has authorized accession talks with candidate Turkey for the first time. Chapter 12, on "Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy" was the last chapter to be opened on June 30, 2012. Turkey's accession negotiation started in 2005, but only one chapter on science and research has been able to close since then. In 2006, The EU decided to suspend Turkey's EU accession negotiations in eight chapters due to the Greek Cyprus issue. France, on its part, unilaterally blocked 5 chapters soon after the President Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in 2007. Turkey has been able to initiate negotiations only on 13 chapters so far partly due to the unilaterally veto of Greek Cyprus on 6 chapters. After François Hollande won French presidential elections, the attitude of France towards Turkey has been relatively moderated; as a result of which France has recently announced it is lifting its veto on Chapter 22, one of the five chapters it has been blocking since Sarkozy's term. Croatia, another candidate, which began the accession talks with the EU at the same time as Turkey, is expected to become a full member as of July 1, 2013.