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Cyprus; European Union; Turkey: Cyprus Sets Stumbling Blocks to Turkey’s Accession Negotiations

(July 27, 2009) The negotiation process for Turkey's eventual membership in the European Union involves the harmonization of 33 chapters (individual subject areas of law) with the EU's acquis communataire (complete body of law). The 2008 Progress Report on EU membership prepared by the European Commission states that the EU has opened negotiations with Turkey on eight chapters, seven of which are still open: enterprise and industry, statistics, financial control, trans-European networks, consumer health protection, intellectual property law, and company law. The eighth chapter, on science and research, has provisionally been closed. The EU has also informed Turkey of the progress needed to open negotiations on 11 other chapters. (European Commission, Turkey Progress Report 2008, COM(2008) 674/ SEC(2008) 2699 (Nov. 11, 2008), available at

The negotiation process moves slowly for several reasons. These include the slow progress made by Turkey in meeting the 1993 Copenhagen political and economic criteria, the 35-year occupation of northern Cyprus by Turkey and other related problems, as well as opposition from France and Germany.

The latest impediment to the negotiation process was Cyprus's opposition to the opening of the energy chapter in response to threats and efforts of the Turkish government to prohibit Cyprus from engaging in exploration of oil reserves in the southern coastal area of Cyprus. Turkey claims that the Turkish Cypriots in the northern area should also be able to enjoy the energy resources, to which the Government of Cyprus objects. The Foreign Minister of Cyprus, Marcos Kyprianou, stated: “Cyprus, as other countries in the region, has determined its exclusive economic zone based on international law, the law of the sea specifically.” (Lucia Kubosova, Cyprus Remains Tough on Turkey's EU Talks, EUOBSERVER, July 21, 2009, available at At the end of 2009, the Government of Cyprus will begin a second round of hydrocarbon exploration licenses. A Texas-based U.S. firm, Noble Energy, has been given a license for oil exploration in the area. (Id.)