Updated: 15/11/2022

FAQ for Negotiation Process

What does the process of EU Accession Negotiations mean?

The process of EU accession negotiations is the time period, in which it is determined for each candidate country, in how much time and with which regulations it will adopt the EU Acquis, and how the candidate country will put the acquis into force and implement it

The candidate country is required to adopt the EU acquis as a whole.

In order for a country to fully adopt the Acquis, it does not suffice to pass legislation, i.e. laws and directives. Within the framework of the 1995 Madrid Summit, the candidate country is also required to establish the necessary legal and administrative capacity in order to put legislation into practice in the most effective way. In other words, it is required to establish institutions or departments that will implement the legislation and increase their capacity of implementation.


What does the EU Acquis mean?

A country's accession to the EU requires the adoption of the Union's system; rights and responsibilities that are linked to the Union's institutional framework. Türkiye has to implement this acquis as of the time of its accession. As it is subject to constant alteration or/and extension.

The EU Acquis is the total body of EU's legal system and rules which are in force.

The EU acquis has been constantly evolving. It includes the founding treaties of the EU, those that amend them, secondary legislation (directives, regulations, decisions), treaties signed with the third countries, the decisions of the European Court of Justice etc. In addition, legally-binding or non-binding acts/proceedings that were adopted within the EU framework, i.e. inter-institutional agreements, resolutions, notifications, recommendations, guiding principles, joint actions, common attitudes, declarations, conclusion proclamations and other acts that were adopted within the framework of foreign security and defence policy, common attitudes, signed contracts, resolutions, proclamations and other acts that were adopted within the framework of justice and home affairs are also part of the acquis.

Furthermore, international treaties that were concluded between the European Communities/the EU or European Communities/the EU and member states and international treaties that were concluded by member states regarding the Union's activities/operations are included in the acquis.

As of October 1, 2009, the EU Acquis has reached up to 14,607 legislations. Similar to the domestic legislation of any country, the EU Acquis is dynamic in nature and it is subject to change. It is estimated that the acquis grows by approximately 5,000 pages every year, and that the existing EU Acquis is composed of 110,000 pages.

In the accession negotiations, the EU Acquis is handled under 35 chapters.


What are the topics of the chapters regarding the EU Acquis that are subject to accession negotiations?

35 chapters, which are subject to negotiations and were determined with Türkiye's Negotiation Framework Document, are as follows:

1- Free movement of goods
2- Freedom of movement for workers
3- Right of establishment and freedom to provide services
4- Free movement of capital
5- Public procurement
6- Company law
7- Intellectual property law
8- Competition policy
9- Financial services
10- Information society and media
11- Agriculture and rural development
12- Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy
13- Fisheries
14- Transport policy
15- Energy
16- Taxation
17- Economic and monetary policy
18- Statistics
19- Social policy and employment
20- Enterprise and industrial policy
21- Trans-European networks
22- Regional policy and coordination of structural instruments
23- Judiciary and fundamental rights
24- Justice, freedom and security
25- Science and research
26- Education and culture
27- Environment
28- Consumer and health protection
29- Customs union
30- External relations
31- Foreign, security and defense policy
32- Financial control
33- Financial and budgetary provisions
34- Institutions
35- Other issues


Which phases does the accession negotiations process include?

1-The decision to start the negotiations: Within the framework of the Brussels Summit on December, 17, 2004, the Council of the European Union leaders agreed to start discussing Türkiye's accession negotiations.

2- The start of Accession Negotiations: Türkiye's negotiation process officially started with the Intergovernmental Conference of October 3, 2005. On the same day, the Negotiation Framework Document (NFD), which determines the principles regarding EU-Türkiye negotiations, the essence and rules of the negotiations, the negotiation chapters, was adopted. Within the context of the document mentioned, the negotiations are based on three basic components. 1-) Implementation of the Copenhagen political criteria without exception, deepening and speeding up the political reforms. 2-) Implementation and alignment of the acquis. 3-) Establishing and strengthening the dialogue with civil society and in this regard undertake a communication strategy aimed at both the European and the Turkish public.

3-Intergovernmental Conference (IGC): It is a platform that consists of the foreign ministers of the candidate country and member states where significant political decisions of the negotiation process are declared. Opening and closing of chapters are officially proclaimed at the IGC. In nature, the IGCs are ceremonial.

4-Screening Phase: It is undertaken by the European Commission and bureaucrats of the public institutions of the candidate country. It is basically a formal process of examination of the acquis, assessment of the state of preparation, determining the major differences between the acquis and the candidate country's legislation, and obtaining preliminary indications of the issues that will most likely come up in the negotiations. The screening phase for Türkiye started with the introductory screening meeting held on "Science and Research" chapter on October, 20, 2005. It was concluded with the bilateral screening meeting held on "Judiciary and Fundamental Rights" chapter on October, 13, 2006. Detailed information on Türkiye's screening process of each chapter may be accessed at https://www.ab.gov.tr/. 

5- Screening Reports: Following the completion of screening for a given chapter, evaluations are drafted by the European Commission through the so-called "Screening Reports", which are then handed down to the Council of Ministers of the EU. The Reports constitute the basis upon which negotiations are formally opened on the particular chapter. Based on the information the Commission receives from our country at the screening meetings, it evaluates whether our country is ready for negotiations. At the end of this document the EU Commission either suggests the opening of the chapter according to the given information or it presents a number of criteria (a.k.a benchmarks) to be fulfilled in order for this chapter to be opened. 

6-Opening of the chapters to negotiations: "Screening report" of any chapter, prepared by the Commission, and then handed down to the Council of Ministers of the EU, has to be approved by the Council unanimously. Thus, if the Commission's screening report does not include any benchmark or if it does, and the candidate country fulfils the benchmark within a given period of time, the Commission recommends the opening of the chapter to the Council through an assessment report. In order to open or close a chapter, it is obligatory for each country in the Council to agree unanimously. Otherwise, a chapter cannot be opened. The same process is required for a chapter to be closed.

7-Preparation of the Negotiation Position Document by Türkiye: Each chapter, for which opening was unanimously approved, the Member State holding the Presidency of the European Union sends a letter to Türkiye, asking it to present its Negotiating Position Document on the specific chapter. The Negotiating Position Document is prepared by our institutions with the coordination of the Secretariat General for EU Affairs. It consists of Türkiye's achievements on the relevant chapter of the acquis, the foreseen schedule of Türkiye's progress on harmonization, and if seen as necessary, transition phase after full membership or a request for temporary exceptions. In preparation of the Negotiating Position Document, Türkiye makes an effort to take the opinions of all parties concerned, including civil society organizations.

8-Preparation of a Common Position Document by the EU: After examining Türkiye's Negotiating Position Document, the European Commission prepares a draft Common Position Document on the same chapters and submits it to the Council of Ministers. Then, the EU Common Position Document is unanimously approved at the Council of Ministers.

9-Closing of Negotiations Chapters provisionally and finally: Negotiation chapters are provisionally closed if the candidate country's adoption of the acquis and its degree of implementation are seen as sufficient. For example, the chapter on Science and Research was opened on June 12, 2006 and was declared as closed by the IGC on the same day. If the candidate country's acquis adoption and its degree of implementation are not found sufficient for it to be provisionally closed, the Council, taking the Commission evaluations into account, may introduce closing benchmarks. In this case, a report regarding the fulfilment of the closing criteria is required to be unanimously approved by the Council. Initially, chapters are provisionally closed. Later, at the end of the negotiation process, all chapters are subject to reassessment and after the reassessment, they can ultimately be closed. There are two reasons for this procedure. Firstly, as the negotiations take many years, significant changes might occur in the acquis during the negotiations and the candidate country is expected to adjust to these changes. Secondly, the candidate country's degree of harmonization in the provisionally closed chapter might have deteriorated.

10-Negotiation of the "Institutions" & "Other issues" Chapters: Following the the closure of all thirty-three chapters first provisionally, then finally, the candidate country and the EU negotiate on the last two chapters namely "Institutions" (34th chapter) & "Other Issues" (35th chapter).
The chapter "Other Issues" consists of issues that come up during the negotiations but are not covered under any specific chapter. These include but are not limited to the determination of the protocol under which the candidate country will benefit from EU Development Funds, payments to the European Central Bank, the method and the amount of years the candidate country will benefit from protection measures, pre-accession and structural funds and/or unilateral declarations (e.g. Malta's declaration that its inclusion in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy does infringes upon its neutrality).
Under the chapter "Institutions", candidate country's proportion of representation at the EU institutions, i.e. the Commission, Council or Parliament, is determined.

11- Ratification of the Treaty of Accession: Once negotiations are concluded on all 35 chapters, "Treaty of Accession" is drafted for the candidate country, after a consensus is reached by the Council and approved with a simple majority vote by the European Parliament, the treaty is signed by all member States and the candidate country. According to their laws, the member States and the candidate country have the freedom of choosing the method that they will follow in order to sign the treaty; they can either attempt to get it approved by their parliaments or present it directly to their people with a referendum.


On what issues is the candidate country not allowed to negotiate?

Adoption of the EU Acquis, establishment of administrative structures towards implementation, compliance with the Copenhagen political criteria and Copenhagen economic criteria cannot be negotiated.


On what issues is the candidate country allowed to negotiate?

The candidate country is allowed to negotiate on when and how the adoption of the EU Acquis will take place. In exceptional cases, transition phases, temporary derogations and requests of additional assistance can also be included into negotiations.


In which situations may transition phases and temporary derogations be requested?

 Transition phases and temporary derogations can be requested, particularly on certain negotiation chapters (energy, environment, social policy), in cases where adoption of the EU Acquis creates economic, social and political problems, however, the request should be justified. Acceptance of these requests are difficult on issues that contradict EU's political agenda or are related to basic free market economy and competition power of enterprises. On the other hand, it is more likely for the EU to accept requests on issues that have the potential of affecting the production process and being too costly for the candidate country and issues that it is less sensitive on such as policies on energy, environment and transportation.


What can the opening and closing benchmarks be?

Opening and closing benchmarks may include steps such as introduction of any legislation towards the adoption of the acquis, formation of a new institution or unit in a institution or preparation of an Action Plan or Strategy.

Benchmark Samples for Opening a Chapter:

1-) Türkiye adopts the food, feed and veterinary framework legislation which complies with the EU Acquis and makes provisions for a clear assignment of responsibilities, in particular for that of controlling bodies. (The first opening benchmark of the Chapter "Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy")

2-) Türkiye presents the Commission a detailed strategy which will serve as a basis for, implementation and enforcement of the EU Acquis, including relevant international standards on animal health ,food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy. (The second opening benchmark of the Chapter "Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy")

3-) World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) approves that the Trakya region of Türkiye is free of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). (The fifth opening benchmark of the Chapter "Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy)

4-) Ensure that full trade union rights with regards to right to organize, the right to strike and the right to collective bargain are respected in line with EU standards and the relevant ILO Conventions. In this sense Türkiye needs to eliminate existing restrictions and adopt a fully revised legislation for both private and public sectors. (The first opening benchmark of the Chapter "Social Policy and Employment")


Closing benchmark samples:

1-) Türkiye adopts legislation aimed at implementing EU's horizontal and framework environmental legislation, including its transfrontier aspects. (The first closing benchmark of the Chapter "Environment")

2-) Türkiye passes legislation aimed at implementing the EU acquis in the field of water quality, notably its Framework Water Protection Law; establishes River Basin Protection Action Plans; and makes further significant progress in legislative alignment in this sector (The second closing benchmark of the Chapter "Environment")

3-) Türkiye adopts legislation aimed at applying the acquis in the field of industrial pollution control and risk management. (The third closing benchmark of the Chapter "Environment")

4-) Türkiye achieves further progress in implementing tobacco products regulations according to the acquis, especially focusing on high tar yields and smokeless tobacco as well as tobacco advertising acquis. (The fourth closing benchmark of the Chapter "Consumer and health protection")


What are the eight chapters, except the technical opening and closing benchmarks, that cannot be opened due to Türkiye's obligation to fully implement the Additional Protocol (Türkiye's obligation to open its ports and airbases to Greek Cypriot Administration) based on the decision of the Council of General Affairs and External Relations (GAERC)?

1-) Free Movement of Goods

3-) Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services

9-) Financial Services

11-) Agriculture and Rural Development

13-) Fisheries

14-) Transport Policy

29-) Customs Union

30-) External Relations

In addition, implementation of the Additional Protocol is a closing benchmark for all chapters.


What are the Other Significant Documents for a Candidate Country in Negotiation Process?

Accession Partnership Document (APD)

The Accession Partnership Document (APD) is a document, which is prepared by the European Commission for each country whose candidacy has been approved. After having been approved by the Council, the APD is published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Thus, it is a part of the EU Acquis.

This document is prepared for candidate countries and serves as a road map. It includes measures to be taken for membership, economic and political criteria and short and midterm priorities listed under chapters (currently 35 chapters for the implementation of the EU acquis). In addition, this document also contains matters concerning EU Financial Assistance.

It is projected that short term priorities will be accomplished within one to two years and medium term priorities will be accomplished within three to four years after the APD is released.

The APD is updated in the case there is a necessity. In other words, issues that are included in the APD, but that were already fulfilled by the candidate country, are taken out. The rest of the measures become subject to a new schedule.


National Program (NP)

Although there is no binding clause, candidate countries are expected to prepare a National Program for each APD. The APD is a concise document that is composed of fifteen to twenty pages and general statements. For instance, in the 2006 APD, the projected short term priorities for the "Fisheries" chapter (one of thirty-five chapters) are "implementing the EU acquis and strengthening the administrative capacity for the laws concerning fishery management, inspection, and marketing and structural improvement.

The National Program contains the detailed information on the institutions, the amount of time, the framework of the institutional structuring, and the financial resources needed in order to undertake the previously mentioned measures. Hence, the National Program is about 700-800 pages long compared to the APD that is about 15-20 pages long. It is essential that the National Program is in line with the measures and terms of the APD. Yet, naturally, on certain issues, the priorities of the candidate country can be taken into account in preparation of the National Program.

Accession Partnership Documents that have so far been published by the EU for Türkiye and National Programs prepared by Türkiye

Accession Partnership Documents

National Programs 

APD of 2001

2001/235/EC Council's Decision

EU Official Journal dated March 24, 2001

NP of 2001

2001/2129 Council of Ministers

Official Gazette dated March 24, 2001

APD of 2003

2003/398/EC Council's Decision

EU Official Journal dated June 12, 2003

NP of 2003

2003/5930 Council of Ministers

Official Gazette dated July 23, 2003

APD of 2006

2006/35/EC Council's Decision

EU Official Journal dated January 26, 2006

Since this year marked the start of accession negotiations

of Türkiye, preparing a new NP was not found suitable.

Instead, an Acquis Adoption Program, which covers the

years of 2007-2013 was prepared

APD of 2008

2008/157/EC Council's Decision

EU Official Journal February 26, 2008

NP of 2008
2008/14481 Council of Ministers
Official Gazette dated December 31, 2008 and Official Gazette

numbered 27097


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