The EU opened membership negotiations with Turkey on 3rd October 2005. This was done by adopting a negotiating framework for this candidate country.
The first stage of negotiations started immediately with the screening process. Screening meetings were completed in October 2006. Following this, the Commission prepared screening reports for each chapter.
The first chapter to be negotiated, Chapter 25 - Science and Research, was opened and provisionally closed on 12th June 2006.
In November 2006, the European Union expressed concern over restrictions to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on means of transport to which Turkey had committed by signing the Additional Protocol to the Ankara Agreement.
With no solution found, the European Council decided on 14-15 December 2006 to suspend negotiations on eight chapters relevant to Turkey's restrictions with regard to the Republic of Cyprus:
- Chapter 1 Free movement of goods
- Chapter 3 Right of establishment and freedom to provide services
- Chapter 9 Financial services
- Chapter 11 Agriculture and rural development
- Chapter 13 Fisheries
- Chapter 14 Transport policy
- Chapter 29 Customs union
- Chapter 30 External relations
It was also decided that no chapter would be provisionally closed until Turkey fulfils its commitments under the additional protocol to the EU-Turkey association agreement.
However, this did not mean that the process of negotiations was blocked. As of January 2007, the negotiations were back on the track on the chapters that were not suspended.
On 29 November 2015, EU heads of state or government held a meeting with Turkey. The meeting marked an important step in developing EU-Turkey relations and contributing to managing the migration crisis. The EU and Turkey agreed to re-energise Turkey's accession process to the European Union.
During a meeting following the European Council on 17-18 March 2016, EU leaders and Turkey agreed to accelerate the fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap, with a view to lifting visa requirements for Turkish citizens by end of June 2016, if all jointly agreed benchmarks had been met. They reconfirmed their commitment to re-energise the accession process. They agreed to open chapter 33. during the Netherlands' presidency.
The EU-Turkey Statement, which followed the Joint Action Plan, was agreed on 18 March 2016. The Statement is aimed at preventing deaths at sea, breaking the business model of the smugglers and offering these in need of protection alternative safe legal pathways to the EU. In order to support the more than 3 million refugees in Turkey and their host communities, the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey was set up, with EUR 3 bn, now starting its second tranche of EUR 3 billion. The Facility aims at ensuring that the needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey are addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated manner.
On 30 June 2016, the latest meeting of the Accession Conference with Turkey at ministerial level was held in Brussels. The conference opened negotiations on Chapter 33, on financial and budgetary provisions
16 out of 35 chapters have now been opened, one of which has been provisionally closed, as the table below shows it.
The General Affairs Council meeting of 13 December 2016 welcomed the opening of Chapter 33 (Financial and budgetary provisions) on 30 June 2016 and noted positively that Turkey in a number of areas, particularly related to the economic field, had reached a good level of alignment with the EU acquis. The EU Council stressed that the accession process is open-ended and encouraged Turkey to continue its alignment efforts, noting that, under the prevailing circumstances, no new chapters were considered for opening. Particular attention notably should be given to the rule of law and to the independence of the judiciary, which would also serve the improvement of the business environment and towards restoring investors' confidence.
At the European Council meeting of 19 October 2017, EU leaders held a debate on relations with Turkey. While they stressed their full commitment to the cooperation with Turkey on migration, they also tasked the Commission to reflect on whether to cut and re-orient pre-accession funds given the situation in the country.
On 26 March 2018, EU leaders hosted Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Varna, Bulgaria. The EU was represented by Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission and Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister of Bulgaria as host. The leaders had a wide-ranging discussion on EU-Turkey relations and the way ahead.