Category Archives: Group 1

EU Targets Fake Drugs on the Internet by Tanya Abu Ghazaly

Parliament protects patients from fake drugs

The war against fake pharmaceutical drugs in the EU has intensified as the Parliament recently expanded their hunt for scams on the Internet. According to the new law passed on February 16, pharmaceutical drugs sold online should be traceable and approved of by the EU to be sold legally.

The new law aimed at protecting patients has been voted for by the Parliament but is still awaiting the approval of the Council of Ministers, according to the official European Parliament’s website.

One percent of drugs in the EU and 30 percent of them in the world sold through the legal supply chain are counterfeited. The global figures have skyrocketed by 92 percent between 2005 and 2010, according to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. Experts are calling this a low-key, international pandemic.

Fake drugs sold on the Internet

Counterfeit drugs are silent killers that disguise themselves as genuine medication but that are actually ineffective or poisonous substances.

According to the European Medicines Agency, the manufacturers use cheap and often toxic ingredients ranging from printer ink and chalk, to amphetamines and anti-freeze.

Although these drugs can be bought from pharmacies, they most often travel from fraudulent producers to unsuspecting patients via the Internet.


Purchasing drugs off the Internet is not always a safe option.


In fact, the European Medicines Agency reports that about 90 percent of counterfeit drugs are sold on the web.

As well as the risk posed by unknown ingredients, Internet drugs circumvent traditional healthcare and this poses its own risks as underlying health conditions could be undiagnosed if people don’t seek medical advice, says Dr. Graham Jackson, a cardiologist at the Guys & St Thomas Hospital in London and an activist against fake drugs.

Developed countries at lower risk yet not immune

Although developed countries are at a much lower risk than their counterparts due to stronger regulation, expensive lifestyle drugs such as hormones and steroids reach EU households. More recently, an increasing number of life-threatening drugs such as diabetes, AIDS and cancer-related medication has infiltrated the EU market, reports the European Medicines Agency.

Jakob Bertelsen is a Danish diabetes patient and a victim of counterfeit drugs. He bought Glucophage, a drug meant to regulate blood sugar levels, from an allegedly Swiss-based website.

After the side effects of his condition reappeared two weeks after beginning his treatment, he took the drugs to a local pharmacist where they were tested and found out to be imitations.


Counterfeited drugs often appear identical to real medication.


The website, the packaging and the drug itself seemed identical to me so I never had a shadow of a doubt. That is what scares me the most. It is fortunate that I consulted professionals or one bad purchasing decision could have ended my life, says Bertelsen.

Regardless of a country’s wealth, the World Health Organization (WHO) states that counterfeit medicines are a threat to communities which is why there should be a general consensus that protects patients in the EU and globally.

Boguslaw says that a universal agreement as to what is permissible needs to be addressed. Countries within the EU and outside of it exchange drugs despite the fact that they have different laws governing drug manufacturing.

Obstacles catching online criminals

Newly implemented safety regulations that ensure the identification, authenticity and traceability of the product in question will reduce incidences of online drug scams, says Vice-chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety MEP Sonik Boguslaw.

Websites approved by the EU will feature common “trust logo” to prove their legitimacy, according to the official European Parliament’s website.

However, the crackdown on Internet scams aimed at baiting unknowing customers could be a challenging task.

Crime rings that are behind the scenes of online drug fraud will falsely claim to be based in the US, Canada or developed European countries to increase credibility, according to the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

A Russian-based crime ring arrested in October 2010 had domain names registered in Monaco, Australia and France, reports the Partnership for Safe Medicines.

More than 50 percent of medication found on websites that do not provide their physical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses is counterfeited, according to the World Health Organization.

Pharmaceutical companies raise awareness

Pharmaceutical companies are more and more active in raising awareness about this issue now that they are aware of the severity of the situation, says Boguslaw.

Several drug firms such as Roche, the world’s largest biotech company, offer its clients online fact sheets in order to warn them of the potential risks and how to protect themselves which is a great improvement to the attention given to the problem five years ago, says Dr. Jackson.

This raises another concern and could even be counter-productive, believes Portugese MEP and member of the left side, Marisa Matias. Since this information is available for all on the Internet, scam artists can now view the list of precautions and modify their products accordingly, Matias adds.

Ineffective legal sanctions

In some cases, producing counterfeit medicine can be ten times as profitable per kilogram as heroin, yet in the UK someone can face greater legal sanctions if they produce a counterfeit T-shirt, says Dr. Jackson.

He adds that the Internet’s shield of anonymity, the low risk of being caught by the authorities and the potentially high profits makes this illegal industry highly appealing to those motivated by greed.

Shouldn’t those who defraud pharmaceutical, wholesalers, pharmacists, and especially members of the public whose lives are at stake be given more than a simple slap on the wrist for their crimes? asks Bertelsen.

The absence of legal framework encourages counterfeiting, an organized crime. We have been witnessing a huge growth of this criminal activity, with an increase of 400% in seizures of fake drugs in 2005, says Matias.

What next?

A new method being developed in the UK uses the Internet in a constructive manner to help fight counterfeit drugs, according to the European Medicines Agency. By taking a picture of the product packaging and submitting it to an online database, the patient can find out whether the drug is authentic or not within a matter of seconds.

Scientists and pharmaceutical companies are taking the creation of new anti-counterfeit technology more seriously and want to ensure everyone’s safety by putting a complete halt on these crimes, says Dr. Jackson.

Framework in Place to Tackle Roma Inclusion

The European Union has finally developed and approved a strategy that will begin the process of solving the issue of Roma inclusion and attempt to control the growing problem.

By Caroline McCarley

The European Union (EU) has been facing a steadily growing problem within its own borders.  The issue of discrimination and segregation against the Roma population has been made a top priority, and with the new framework strategy proposal underway, the EU hopes it will soon be an issue of the past.

Today, as many as 12 million Roma people still face poverty and discrimination.  The Roma remain the largest ethnic minority in Europe.  Roma can be found in all 27-member states of the EU, but they are most prevalent in the countries of Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Spain.  Creating Roma inclusion is an issue that has been debated and proposed in the past, but little success has occurred.

In a recent interview with the European Parliament, Livia Járóka, Hungarian Member of Parliament, member of the European People’s Party and Roma herself, stated her position on the discrimination that Roma people face in Europe, “We have to change from the very ethnic understanding of this minority into something more open, giving Roma more possibilities especially from an employment point of view. We have European laws to fight discrimination, but they are not implemented in all European countries.”

Livia Jaroka discusses Roma inclusion at a recent press conference.

New Strategy in Effect

Járóka is responsible for the new policy that the European Parliament just approved in the recent plenary session.  Her report is different than any other approach Parliament has done before. “Last year parliament had soft law approaches to the Roma. After working for six years and striving hard to work on a legal framework rather than strategy we have reached a plan we think will work,” Járóka stated in a press conference.

There have been several reports on Roma inclusion previous to this report.  However, this is the first time there has been major reactions from the commission.  The report has created long-term goals for Parliament.  These goals will be enforced as to make this report one that will generate progress.

Kinga Göncz, Hungarian Member of Parliament, and member of Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, played an important role in helping Járóka develop this report. Göncz has lots of faith in this strategy. “The framework strategy is what makes this plan different and special,” she says. “This is the first time that it is reaching the parliament level, which means action is finally being taken.”

Járóka even comments, “We have reached the stage of creating a uniformed set of binding agreements.”

Why this plan will work.

The framework approach is the reason this strategy is considered different.  Parliament thinks this method will generate more success.  The essential concept is strategies will be developed based on the information found at local, regional, and national levels.  Countries will decide how best to handle the Roma situation.  Strategies in the past have not worked because the measurement of success is different for every country.  Roma inclusion will be more difficult to handle in a country such as Hungary, than in Italy, for example.  “Framework will be based on the results found at the local/regional system, and monitoring will be done by the EU,” Járóka says.  “Countries will have funds at their disposal with the basis of the program they can do more and achieve more depending on the situation of Roma.”

Járóka believes it will be best to adopt the Laeken indicators and their complemented components to evaluate progress.  “Through this strategy, we can bring about qualitative change,” she says.

Flags in front of the European Council

Roma population must participate.

However, during the recent debate, not all parties were in favor of the framework strategy approach.  In the recent debate on Roma inclusion Ioan Enciu of the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats party stated, “Only with the involvement of the Roma people can we succeed. Who is better aware of the problems of the community than the community itself? They need to move away from being spectators, Romas need to be in the strategy.”

Járóka believes that the Roma will participate in this new strategy, “Reports and information will also need to come from inside of the Roma Party.  This is something that will not work from the top-down; it will only work as a complete community party. This is a two-way project,” she says.

Education will be the primary tactic for integrating the Roma population.  “The Roma are often categorized into groups. They make excellent musicians, artists, ect., but it is hard to imagine them as lawyers, doctors, or other serious professions.  It is important to teach and educate them the culture of mainstream society,” Göncz says.  By introducing them to mainstream education, and educating them about European society, the EU hopes to integrate them into society.  In the new framework strategy, education is one of the key factors to creating Roma inclusion.

In order to make sure a line of communication stays open, member states will be required to work with Non Governmental Organizations, so that it is clear as to what is happening and why there are delays in progress. These lines of communication will be a tool used to monitor what is occurring between the government and the Roma.  Consultation and feedback will be crucial if we are expected to generate real results.

The final definitive form of the strategy will come in June. It will then be possible to take a decision and put forward conclusions to solidify the success of Roma inclusion.  It is up to everyone within the European community to make sure Roman inclusion becomes a reality.  “Non-Romas need to realize there is shared history and we are facing a shared future. Our hands are tied together and we need to face this,” Járóka says.  “This will be a long journey. It will take 50 years to fully integrate the Roma into European society. I’m sure there will be mistakes; we’re only human after all.”




Fact Box

–       10 to 12 milion Roma people live in Europe

–       The countries with the most prevalent Roma population are Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Spain

–       The Roma is the largest ethnic minority in Europe














Liberal resistance against child pornography proposal

From left to right discussing the topic “Deletion – not blocking of child pornography sites” at a press conference in Strasbourg: Jens Rohde, Sophia In’t Veld, Alexander Alvaro all from ALDE and president of the European Liberal Youth, LYMEC Alexander Plahr. Photo: Anders Fallesen.



The European Union is currently discussing new potential legislation on the fight against child pornography on the internet. Many members of the Parliament (MEP’S) are not satisfied with the Commission’s proposal and they are determined to hold their ground in the current negotiations.

By Anders Maass Fallesen

Child pornography on the internet has proved to be a huge problem. More than 200 new images of children being abused by adults appear online every day and child pornography on the internet has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry according to the research company Top Ten Reviews. Their research is supported by institutions such as Interpol and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

As a result of the increase of child pornography on the internet, the Swedish Commissioner of the European Union (EU), Cecilia Malmström, initiated a draft proposal for a united EU legislation last year. Blocking websites with illegal images of children being abused was a crucial part of the proposal. It was heavily criticized though by members of the European Parliament and by organizations such as the European Digital Rights.

They believe that blocking websites is not enough since the distributors of the images can easily work around it and upload pictures at other websites.

“These internet sites have to be taken down completely. That must be our top priority. With only blocking websites, essentially the abuse on the internet carries on. It is just like if you pull a curtain down, so you cannot see what happens outside your window. It is only a symbolic solution,” says Dutch MEP, Sophia In’t Veld, who is the vice-chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs committee in the European Parliament. She is also a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).

Five minutes to work around blocking

One of the main points of criticism of the proposal is that the distributors of child pornography can easily upload pictures, although their sites are blocked. It will not take more than five minutes to work your way around a blocking, says Michael Matzen the Country Manager of NetClean Denmark.

NetClean is a company working on technical solutions for protecting children on the internet. They have developed systems for companies and authorities, where sites and pictures are scanned in order to make sure that there are no images of child abuse on their computers and servers.

“Blocking websites only solves a fraction of the problem. But we think that although it is a small and modest step the European Union is taking, it is a good step. We want to stop as much distribution as possible,” says Michael Matzen.

He believes that there will be more legislation on child pornography within the next three or four years, because it draws more attention than ever from the public.

No electronic Berlin walls

The proposal of Cecilia Malmström does not only encounter resistance on fighting child pornography on the internet. Blocking websites in general will lead to further problems and politicians should not decide whether sites are illegal and unsuitable for the internet, says Danish MEP, Jens Rohde (ALDE).

He stresses that though the fight on the spreading of images with children being abused is crucial and necessary, this is the wrong way to approach it. It is not up to politicians to determine when sites are illegal, he says.

“The courts have to decide, when we have to remove sites from the internet. If we as politicians decide to block random sites on the internet, we will have a big problem. It will create problems for the trade on the internet and for the Single European Market. Perfectly legal sites have been blocked before by mistake,” says Jens Rohde.

He believes that the politicians of the European Union must wake up and realize that the internet is a strong force, where it is always easy to find different methods to upload and watch videos and images. ¨

“Many politicians in the EU have not understood how the internet works. We should forget about building electronic Berlin walls. It will never work. Instead we need better legal rights so we know when the courts have to remove sites from the internet. We have to make sure that the content of these horrible sites is deleted, not just being blocked,” Jens Rohde says.

Negotiations have already begun

After the discussion of the proposal in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, the possible EU directive was sent to Brussels, where the Council of the European Union has started negotiations with the Parliament. The Council decided in December that their position on the proposal is that the websites containing the illegal images as a rule has to be deleted. Whenever that is not possible they will not hesitate to block the websites though.

Presently the Council and the Parliament are discussing possible amendments to the directive. According to an EU official there will probably be some compromises, if they are to reach an agreement. The approach to the negotiations in the Council is that although blocking websites might not be 100 percent efficient and sufficient, it is still much better than doing nothing at all.

The hope is that the negotiations will successfully be completed before the Hungarian presidency of the European Union ends July 1st. The completed proposal will then be implemented formally approximately a year after.

It was not possible to get a comment from Commissioner Cecilia Malmström for this article.



The Internet Watch Foundation facts from their annual report in 2009:

– There were 10,656 child sex abuse URLs (Uniform Resource Locator) online worldwide in 2006 and 3,077 domains.

– There were 8,844 URLs worldwide in 2009 and 1,316 domains.

– 72 percent of the abused children appear to be between 0-10 years of age.

– 23 percent of the abused children are 6 years or younger.

– 3 percent of the abused children are 2 years or younger.


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Women quotas can become reality in Denmark

Press conference in Strasbourg 8 March 2011: EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding gives the European companies one year to get more women on boards. If they do not succeed, she will introduce women quotas.

If Danish companies not make an effort in getting more women on boards, the EU Parliament will make a legislation, which forces companies to have at least 30% women on the board.

Text and photo by Maria Hesselvig Lange

8 March 2011 was the 100th Anniversary of Women Rights Day and this also became the day where EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding started the race for more women on boards.

“We have waited 100 years to get only 12% women on boards in Europe. I will not wait 100 years more. Therefore we need to take action now,” she said.

France got women quotas in January, and Italy, Belgium and Holland are the next to follow. Countries who are not interested in the quotas will get one year to improve their percentage of women on boards, and after this Viviane Reding has threatened, that she will legislate in this area.


Denmark is far behind its neighbours

Boards in Denmark are still far behind when compared with Norway and France. Both countries have introduced women quotas, which means that they have increased the number of women on boards significantly and now stands at 30-40%. In Denmark the situation is different. We only have 10% women on boards. Even though the companies have tried to do an effort in bringing more women onto boards nothing have seemed to help. Therefore has EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding proposed that the European countries will get a last chance of improving their percentage of women on boards. This means that the companies will have until 8 March 2012 to hire more women to their boards.

“If the companies will not do an effort in improving, we have to legislate in this area. I will give the companies this last chance and I really hope they will improve. Otherwise women quotas will become reality,” says Commissioner Reding.


Danish Government against quotas

In Denmark, the word “quota” seems to be a frightening word. This is at least what the general opinion is in the Danish Government, where they are very much against women quotas, as they think that the quotas will do more harm than good.

The Danish MEP, Jens Rohde (ALDE), follows the opinion of the government:

“Quotas for women on boards are a really bad idea for businesses and for women. For businesses because they are forced upon something, which is inflexible, and for women because they risk being marginalized. The qualified women who come into the boards will risk being seen as part of a quota, which may not be particularly nice when you sit in a boardroom.”

Jens Rohde points out that instead of making quotas the companies should make a gender policy with their own set of rules.

The Danish Opposition is generally voting for the women quotas, but not all members of the party agree. Their MEP Christel Schaldemose (S&D) has another opinion:

“Precisely in relation to companies, I do not think that you should force them. What should the punishment be if they fail to meet quotas? I think there must be an extreme political pressure and a carrot in the end. The companies who actually choose women should be able to get some more funding or something. I favour the carrot and not the punishment, and I think we’ll have to work on this position in relation to businesses.”

The Opposition parties, The Socialist People’s Party and The Danish Social Democrats, have in an equality proposal suggested that all Danish publicly listed companies are obliged by law to have at least 40% women on the board. It must, according to the two parties happen to break stereotypes and traditions of the companies, which they believe prevents equality at management.


Danish Industry against quotas

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) is not thrilled about Viviane Reding’s proposal regarding women quotas, and they strongly hope, that quotas will not become a reality in Denmark:

“DI works with different initiatives to promote women in management, but we do not believe that quotas are a particularly good solution, because we believe that the companies knows what is best for themselves and therefore they ensure that the right skills are present at their boards to perform best. It is important that companies can make these decisions by themselves,” says Helle Rebien, course supervisor on diversity region of DI.

DI thinks that because the gender differences in the different lines of businesses are too big, the quotas will simply not work. They mention Grundfos as an example:

“Their boards is primarily held by engineers, and as we have very few female engineers in Denmark it will naturally be a problem to find a woman who is skilled enough to take the seat instead of a man. Quotas will simply be a problem. On the other hand, if you look at the pharma industry it will be much easier to have quotas because of the overweight of women represented in this industry. Here you do not have to compromise with qualifications,” says Helle Rebien.


Men choose men – not women

The society have waited a long time for a possible increase in the number of female leaders, now that women have a longer education than men, but this increase has not happened, and therefore experts conclude that something must be done.

“Quotas are controversial, but it is needed to do something. We cannot just sit and wait anymore. The alternative was that we could voluntarily change the image but nothing happened. We miss a lot of talent, and we cannot afford that in Denmark. Studies have shown that women influence the effectiveness positive because more men will want to seem well prepared, when women are present on the governing board,” says Professor in gender equality Anette Borchorst and adds:

“The reason why men do not really choose women is that they tend to choose some that are similar to themselves, and if women therefore are discarded because men choose men, there must of course be something done.”


Women quotas as last option

Britta Thomsen, Member of the Committee for Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, is an advocate of women quotas. In her opinion the quota is the only way we can improve our economy:

“We can not afford not to use the well-educated workforce we have in terms of women. Women are better educated than men. In fact, most women have a better education than men and we need to take advantage of this. Anything else would be stupid. Naturally the quotas should be seen as a last option, but if the companies do not get more women on the boards, the quota will become reality.”

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding agrees:
“For me quotas are not the goal, for me they are the instrument to reach a goal if other instruments are not enough. I would very much prefer that we do not need targeted regulatory measures but rather self-regulation.”



CLICK HERE to watch a video about women quotas

EU demands freedom of press from Turkey

Video about Equal rights


Even though the candidate country Turkey negotiates about accession to the European Union, there have been several journalists arrested – a huge problem concerning the freedom of press. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) is angry, and thousands of journalists and supporters demonstrated in Istanbul. The EU expects Turkey to implement the freedom of press as a core democratic principle. But Turkey maintains a low profile.

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By Frauke Konzak

The European Union (EU) reacts with incomprehension to the situation of freedom of press in Turkey. The country should intensify its reforms – that is one of the European Parliament’s key messages in its resolution on Turkey’s 2010 Progress Report last week. But just a week ago, the police arrested some journalists in the candidate country for EU membership – and this was not the only time. Is this compatible with the accession negotiations?

The Parliament’s answer: “No.” During the debate, many of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were concerned about the slow progress on human rights and key reforms in Turkey in 2010 (Photo: Frauke Konzak). Among the main problems, several MEPs listed the freedom of press, including self-censorship of national media and websites.

One of the main problems: freedom of press

The final text of the resolution has the same wording as last year, describing the opening of Turkey’s accession negotiations in 2005 as the “starting point for a long-lasting and open-ended process”. The resolution was adopted with the support of a large majority of MEPs.

“The Commission follows with concern the recent actions against journalists”

Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, says that accession negotiations have slowed down. He says: “The Commission follows with concern the recent actions against journalists. In its 2010 progress report, the Commission highlighted the high number of court cases against journalists.“ Furthermore he states: “As a candidate country, we expect Turkey to implement such core democratic principles and enable varied, pluralistic debate in public space.“

During the debate concerning Turkey’s 2010 progress report, Eniko Gyori, Hungarian Minister of State for EU Affairs, adds: “Fundamental rights should be in line with European standards. The accession negotiations will continue, but they are becoming more complex.“

Again and again police actions against journalists in Turkey

One of the reasons: A week before the debate in the European Parliament, there were police actions against journalists and writers in Turkey. The journalists were accused of relations to the alleged “Ergenekon” coup plots against the Turkish government. The Turkish police raided and searched the homes of nine journalists in Istanbul. They were under police  supervision and facing arrest.

Police also confiscated the journalists’ computers and notebooks, as the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European group the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) complained. These organizations want to push governments to promote social justice and rights for journalists. “We condemn this outrageous violation of a cardinal principle of press freedom,” states Arne König, President of EFJ. “This attack on protection of journalists’ sources is a blatant violation of free expression under the European Convention of Human Rights which has been ratified by Turkey.”

Thousands of Turkish journalists demonstrated for the release of their colleagues

And the public in Turkey reacts, too. On last Sunday, thousands of journalists and their supporters were demonstrating in Istanbul to call for the release of 68 of their arrested colleagues, as several media-websites report. The demonstrators called for changes to the penal code to ensure press rights are protected. It was the second demonstration within two weeks.

In fact, a lot of initiatives – and the EU – demands reaction of Turkey concerning the actions against the journalists. But what they can actually do, that is a different chapter.

“The EU can do little except to raise its voice,” says Birgit Schnieber-Jastram, a MEP from Germany and member of a Group of the European People’s Party/Christian Democrats. She is also in the Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee. “One of the main problems is that it is not transparent for the EU, who is responsible for the arrests, and for which reasons – is it the government or the opposition?” From her point of view, both sides – Turkey and the EU – are slowing down the process of the accession negotiations. She mentions some other problems besides freedom of press, e.g. human rights, freedom of religion and the occupation of the Republic of Cyprus. “Turkey is taking its time,” she says. “But I am also afraid that the negotiations will take too long and both sides will lose their interest.”

Political pressure more effective than a legal process

However, to raise the voice can be a powerful instrument, according to Alun Drake, Coordinator at the Council of Europe. He says: “If I should guess, I would say that this case will be resolved more with political pressure than in a legal process that can take some years, for example at the Court of human rights.” The Council of Europe seeks to develop common and democratic principles based on the European Convention on Human Rights throughout Europe. Alun Drake adds: “The topic of freedom of press is a big and sensitive topic in Turkey. But they do respect human rights to a certain amount, and they are not as bad as Russia for example.” Without that, Turkey would not be able to be a candidate country for a EU membership.

Freedom of press: No problem for Engin Arikan, Counsellor of the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the EU

When and if Turkey becomes a member of the EU, is hard to calculate. “Turkey’s accession date cannot be foreseen under the present circumstances which is full of political obstacles“, says Engin Arikan, Counsellor of the Turkish Permanent Delegation to the EU. He explains his point of view: “Turkey’s negotiation process is blocked for political reasons. It is not normal at all. If we had a normal process free of political obstacles, we would have opened 29 chapters so far, not 13 only. However, despite the political obstacles, Turkey is determinedly continuing its reform process for all negotiation chapters.” Asked what are the biggest problems in Turkey regarding the EU accession – e.g. human rights, freedom of religion or freedom of press – Engin Arikan is confident: „None of that are problems, because Turkey has been and is doing reforms in all these fields.“

Nevertheless, Engin Arikan says that general mood in Turkey concerning the EU is pessimistic: “If you ask Turkish people whether they would like Turkey to join the EU, the response is ‘yes’ with a great majority. However, if you ask people whether they believe that Turkey will become a member of the EU one day, the answer is ‘no’ with majority again. This is the outcome of the frustration accumulated over the years.”

Stefan Füle, European Commissioner, on the other hand, stays optimistic: “The EU-Turkey relationship is strong. Turkey needs the EU and the EU needs Turkey – this balance has not changed. The European Union is and will remain a key player for Turkey.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects responsibility

But still – Turkey maintains a low profile. Egemen Bagis, Turkish State Minister and Chief Negotiator for EU Talks, says to Press TV, no one could lecture Turkey on freedom of expression – not even the EU. Furthermore, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejects responsibility according to the news agency AFP concerning the arrested journalists. He just states that he hopes that the judiciary would “complete the process speedily.”

President Abdullah Gul on the other hand says to AFP he was “worried” about the latest developments concerning freedom of press, because they “cast a pall” over Turkey’s reputation in other countries.




Turkey is a candidate country for EU membership following the Helsinki European Council of December 1999. Accession negotiations started in October 2005 with the analytical examination of the EU legislation (the so-called screening process).

Since then the EU closed provisionally one chapter and opened negotiations on 12 chapters. On 18 February 2008 the Council adopted a revised Accession Partnership with Turkey.

Since 2007, Turkey is receiving EU financial aid under the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA). The allocation for 2008 totals € 538.7 million.


Population (2006) :

72 520 000

Area :

783 562 Square Kilometer



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