Turkey began negotiations to join the EU in 2005, 18 years after applying, but political obstacles, notably over Cyprus and resistance to Turkish membership in Germany and France, have slowed progress.
The new negotiations with the 28-member bloc will open on November 5 and the process should be accelerated to help Ankara implement democratic reforms, EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said yesterday. He added: "Recent developments in Turkey underline the importance of EU engagement and of the EU remaining the benchmark for reform in Turkey."
Many EU capitals want to take the long-awaited step on Turkey's path towards the EU, arguing that Europe should capitalise on Ankara's rapid growth and rising influence in the Middle East. Others are nervous about an expansion that would see the bloc bordering countries including Syria, Iraq and Iran.
Earlier this month, the European Commission praised judicial reforms in Turkey and the government's announcement last month of laws designed to salvage a peace process with Kurdish insurgents.