Turkey: EU Accession

Oral Answers to Questions — Foreign and Commonwealth Office – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 20 January 2015.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

We remain strong supporters of Turkey’s EU accession process. We believe that Turkish accession would be in the national interest of the UK and would contribute to the security and prosperity of the British people. But like any other new member Turkey would have to meet the tough and demanding conditions for entry before she could join.

Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Chair, Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

If Turkey or any other country were to come into the European Union, how will the Government prevent large-scale migration to this country from those countries under the current rules of the single market?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

As the Prime Minister has already said publicly, we believe that future arrangements for freedom of movement from new member countries cannot take place on the same basis as has happened with transitional arrangements in the past. The Commission, in its annual report on enlargement, acknowledged that these matters did need to be considered and we would insist that these changes be made before any new member state is admitted to full membership.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd Labour, Cynon Valley

I would very much like to see Turkey joining the EU, but the repression and imprisonment of journalists and the clampdown on the press continues every day in Turkey. What representations are we making to the Turkish Government?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

We regularly raise human rights concerns, including freedom of the media, with Turkish officials, and Ministers and will continue to do so. I believe that the EU accession process provides the best mechanism through which to press and encourage Turkey to move further in the right direction.

Photo of Richard Ottaway Richard Ottaway Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee

On the last point, is the Minister aware that Turkey has had more cases referred to the European Court of Human Rights than Putin’s Russia? Also, if Turkey wishes to be taken seriously, it must become a more reliable ally. Will he press Turkey to make its bases available to coalition aircraft and to control its border with Syria much more tightly than it is at the moment?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

I acknowledge Turkey’s commitment to the international coalition against ISIL and the tremendous burden that Turkey has shouldered in looking after roughly 1.5 million refugees from Iraq and Syria. But we do continue to talk at the top level to the Turkish Government about how to improve that alliance further to secure more effective action against ISIL.

Photo of David Nuttall David Nuttall Conservative, Bury North

If the UK is still a member of the EU at the time of any future accession by Turkey, does my right hon. Friend think that it would be appropriate for the British people to be asked in a referendum whether they think Turkey should be allowed to join the EU?

Photo of David Lidington David Lidington The Minister for Europe

It will be up to this House to decide whether or not to approve a Turkish accession treaty. Of course it will be open to Parliament, if it wanted to do so, to make that subject to a referendum but, in the past, all new accessions to the EU have been dealt with in this country by parliamentary process. The coalition have strengthened that to make sure that there must be an Act of Parliament before any new accessions take place.