Reuniting Europe

Loudly nobody dares say that. A silent majority of countries are extremely unhappy about the way the Commission has spearheaded the EU Turkey rapprochement. The role of First Vice President Frans Timmermans and of Juncker’s chief of cabinet Martin Selmayr is seen as heavy-handed and creating dangerous precedents.
The Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker took office with the ambition of being more political. Being political rather than technocratic in principle is a good thing. But now diplomats say the EU executive has been crossing red lines and doing “whatever” to achieve results.
Erdogan and Juncker embrace
The driving force behind the Commission is of course Berlin. Strange as it may seem, Germany, who stopped a technical chapter with Turkey over the Gezi Park protests in 2013, now puts pressure on the other member states for the opening of five chapters with this country. It can hardly be argued that Turkey has improved in terms of democracy since.
The preparations of the EU-Turkey summit held on 29 November are seriously criticised. The invitation to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Brussels two weeks before the elections is seen as a strategic mistake, as this was a message that he could make his shopping list and obtain from the EU almost whatever he wants.
Then Timmermans went to Turkey with offers which were not agreed by member states. Perhaps even more controversial was his appearance, twice, at Coreper, the Council format at level of EU ambassadors, where he put pressure for accepting this package.
For his part, Selmayr organised a meeting at ambassador level on the issue of the proposed resettlement scheme with Turkey. The resettlement won’t be even a community scheme, and therefore his role there is seen even more as institutional exotics.
Countries are not happy about the Commission pushing its agenda behind their back, as the College recently adopted decisions critical to Hungary, in the absence of the Commissioner Tibor Navracsics.
Some countries say the decision to pay Turkey €3 billion as an initial sum for stemming the refugee flow wasn’t discussed with them. €2.5 from this amount is supposed to be paid by member states. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if some refuse to pay.
The invitation of Davutogly to come to Brussels only three weeks after the EU-Turkey summit, and obtain more “gifts”, is seen as outrageous by most of the countries that have no plans of seeing the Turkish Prime Minister on 17 December. But even the “like-minded” countries that will see Davutoglu are not sure if the heavy Turkish menu would be digested by their public opinion.
The Commission cannot ignore the sensibilities of several member states with regard to migration, diplomats say. Slovakia is taking the Commission to court over the relocation quota decided by quality majority vote, and Hungary has plans to do the same. If the Commission keeps ignoring such concerns, this can only boost far-right parties across the board.
Many dislike the timing of the openings to Turkey, which coincided with tensions over the downing of the Russian jet and of journalists sent to jail. Many dislike the emphasis on Turkey, and letting down Jordan and Lebanon, where more than Syrian refugees live than in Turkey. Many dislike the message that the future of Schengen depends on Turkey.
Knowing how arrogant Erdogan can be, the Commission should realise that by putting all its eggs in his basket, it risks one day having all EU leaders look like fools. Then for certain there will be many parties similar to Front National coming to power in many countries and the EU would be dead.

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