The government plans to take them up again after the general elections slated for June 2011.
Turkey has not done any real work toward its EU membership process in the last three years, with the exception of the 26-article constitutional amendment package.
Turkey was able to pass eight amendments as part of the EU harmonization process between 2003 and 2008, and in 2009 it adopted a single law intended for this purpose. This year, people voted in favor of a constitutional amendment package that included vital changes for military-civilian relations and strengthening judicial independence. However, other harmonization laws waiting to be passed have been shelved for now.
Parliamentary group deputy chairman Bekir Bozdağ, from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party), said that with the current seat distribution in Parliament it would be difficult to pass radical reform laws. He said the government intends to start passing new laws to make current legislation comply with the changes required by the constitutional amendment package and that this was likely to happen after the 2011 budget talks. Bozdağ noted that they expected it to be very difficult for Parliament to work on EU harmonization legislation next year.
The AK Party plans to hold general elections on June 5 or 12, depending on the approval of the Supreme Election Board (YSK). After the elections, the government will concentrate on drafting a new and more democratic constitution for Turkey, which many in the government believe is likely to take at least a year. This inevitably will take its toll on EU harmonization laws, either significantly impeding progress in this area or completely halting it for the time being.
Another reason preventing the government from fulfilling its resolution to work on EU harmonization legislation has been the continuous objections by France and Germany -- the two heaviest powers in the EU -- against Turkey's full membership. If these two countries continue in their objections, the process will barely move at a snail's speed.
A further discouraging factor causing the government to drag its feet on EU harmonization laws has been the stance by the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which are both highly skeptical of the EU process. These parties treat every EU harmonization law as a new concession, and they have forced the government to backpedal on a number of laws -- such as the Court of Accounts Law, the Law on State Assistance and the Turkish Commercial Code -- which had come close to passage in Parliament.
Yet another obstacle for the AK Party has been the failure to change the parliamentary bylaws. If the necessary amendments are made to the bylaws, various harmonization laws -- such as the 1,535-article Turkish Commercial Code -- will be passed as what are categorized as “fundamental laws.” This will allow parliamentary talks on these laws to be held on an article-by-article basis as opposed to having talks on each paragraph individually. However, the amendment cannot be passed due to strong opposition from the CHP.
The government's plan for the time being is to concentrate on higher priority laws in the EU process and fully focus on the remainder after the 2011 elections, Bozdağ said.