Even before he was elected as president of France in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy made it crystal-clear that he didn’t want Turkey to join the European Union - ever. Now concerns are growing in Brussels that Sarkozy is contemplating a formal Franco-German initiative next year to offer Turkey a “privileged partnership” instead of, as now, the long-term prospect of full EU membership.
The idea of a “privileged partnership” has been around for a good few years. Sarkozy likes it, and so does Germany’s ruling Christian Democratic party. It also appeals to Angela Merkel, the CDU chancellor. However, Merkel has up to now taken a nuanced approach, recognising that Germany, along with other EU countries, recognised Turkey as an official candidate for membership in 1999. A responsible country cannot just wriggle out of agreements made in good faith, Merkel believes.