16 December, 2006
European Union leaders on Friday decided to adopt the decisions of the EU General Affairs and Foreign Relations Council and partially suspend accession talks with Turkey, freezing eight of the 35 chapters in the negotiations.
The summit also reached agreement on the EU's enlargement strategy, signaling that Europe's door remained open but that prospective members would have to face tougher scrutiny in order to join.
The text of the summit conclusions, while noting that enlargement was a success for the EU and Europe as a whole because it helped overcome divisions in Europe, underlines that the rate of future enlargement should take into account the EU's capacity to absorb new members.
In this framework, the European Commission will be called to assess the impact of accession for each applicant country. At the same time, acceding countries should be ready and able to undertake the obligations of an EU member state to the fullest, while the EU should be able to operate effectively and evolve. These two aspects are vital for securing the agreement of EU citizens, the summit conclusions said.
At another point, the conclusions clarify that the pace of the accession process depends on the outcome of reforms in the candidate-country and that each country is judged individually. It is underlined that, for as long as negotiations are not close to being completed; the EU will avoid setting a date for final accession.
EU leaders also reaffirmed that the future of the western Balkan countries lies with the EU and that each country’s progress depends on its efforts to comply with the Copenhagen criteria and other terms in the process.
On the European prospect of FYROM it is stressed that the candidate state status granted to the country was in recognition of its reform achievements and an appeal is being issued, calling it to accelerate the reform pace in basic sectors to allow the enlargement procedure to proceed.
Source: Athens News Agency