Summary: The paper deals with Turkeyu0092s prospects of joining the European Union. For the start of accession negotiations, the political criteria should be fully met. Nonetheless, the question of EU membership for Turkey still polarises opinion, which differs over cultural factors and the assessment of costs and benefits for the EU. However, by the time Turkey possibly enters the Union around the middle of the next decade, the political and institutional framework of the EU itself is likely to have changed greatly. Independently of Turkish accession, it must be asked whether the EU needs criteria that can be quantitatively measured and verified in order to assess the accession candidates at the next enlargements. For in the wake of the past enlargements the EU has changed in quality and disparity. Turkey has made substantial progress with regard to macroeconomic stabilisation over the past two years, but its economy remains vulnerable to shocks. Sustained economic stability will require a continuation of the current reform policy. But Turkey does not lag too far behind the other current accession candidates Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey has also undertaken substantial efforts to improve its institutional and regulatory infrastructure. Here again, while Turkey lags the other accession candidates on a number of indicators, overall it does not compare too unfavourably with them. Not surprisingly, the gap between Turkey and the ten new EU members is more substantial.
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