In this report we discuss the relationship between
Turkey and the European Union (EU) regarding Turkey joining the Union. We will
take a look at the reasons why Turkey has not been accepted to join the EU to
this day, the advantages and disadvantages of Turkey joining the EU, as well as
the member states in favour and against Turkey joining the European Union.
The European Union is an assembly of European
countries currently consisting of 28 member states who create a single market
area. Its history dates back to the 1950s when the European Economic Community
(EEC) was established between six countries: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy,
Luxemburg and The Netherlands. The European Union member states have agreed on
following the same policies regarding environment, health, security, justice
and migration among other issues. They value human dignity, freedom, democracy,
equality, rule of law and human rights. Indeed, the EU aims to promote peace
and scientific progress, support sustainable development, fight discrimination,
respect cultural diversity as well as offer freedom, security and justice to
its member states and their citizens. 19 of the member states use a single
common currency, euro, and therefore form the euro zone. People, goods,
services and money are allowed to move freely inside the single market making
it a truly unique economic union. The European Union is governed by its several
institutions, including the European Parliament which consists of MEPs from
each member state selected by each state’s citizens, and the number of MEPs
being proportioned according to the state’s size. (European Union, 2017)
Turkey and the EU (and its predecessor EEC) have a
long history of co-operating together and Turkey has striven to become a full
member of the Union since the early years of the establishment of the EEC.
Currently the two are linked by a customs union agreement which consists of for
example free movement, tariff, trade, competition and institutional policies
and provisions. (Decision
No 1/95 of the EC-Turkey Association Council, 1995) Turkey
is a parliamentary republic state located in South Eastern Europe, on the
border of Middle East. It has a population of over 80 million which makes it
one of the biggest countries in the European continent. Most of the inhabitants
are Muslims but the state is secular which means that it does not have an
official religion. Turkey has a GDP of over 850 million US dollars which makes
its also one of the strongest economies in comparison to European countries. As
of now, the currency of Turkey is the Turkish Lira. (World Population Review,
2017) A recent study made by the Objective Research Center reveals that most
Turks are indifferent regarding the question of Turkey accessing to the EU. 77.3
per cent of the respondents had no opinion on the matter while 22.7 per cent
were in favour of Turkey joining the EU. (Daily Sabah, 2017)
Advantages and disadvantages of Turkey joining the EU
there are certain advantages and disadvantages for Turkey to join the EU. Some
issues are not evidently benefits or disbenefits and the arguments might vary
according to the point of view. In the following chapters we discuss the
advantages and disadvantages from both sides: the EU and Turkey.
Advantages for Turkey
was to be accepted in the EU, it would become one of the biggest member states.
Therefore, Turkey would have a strong geo-political impact on the decision
making in the European Parliament.
the euro zone and being a member of the single market would enable Turkish
companies to trade, compete and create products and services in the EU states
more easily and for less expensive price, as opposed to staying outside the EU.
The single market also contributes to reducing unemployment since the European
industry is committed to increasing the number of jobs between the member
states. (Chilongo, 2010) To the same extent, consumer prices would be lower and
the Turks could freely move across Europe in search of work, education or
leisure due to the free movement of people in the EU.
economy would benefit from the country joining the EU. Due to low labour costs,
closeness to the Eastern European market and unrestricted access to the
European market, the country would most likely face significant domestic and
foreign investments. Joining the EU would also help Turkey to develop
economically even further and to modernise as a country. The commitment to
respecting human and legal rights and rooting out discrimination would help
Turkey to improve its global reputation.
policies regarding war prevention. Safety and security of member states and
citizens is one of the priorities of the EU. Even though Turkey and the EU are
already co-operating on the subject and Turkey has history of being the mediator
in disputes, having this kind of protection would be a benefit for any country.
Turkey shares borders with countries like Syria, Iraq and Iran, one of the most
agitated conflict areas in the world. (Chilongo, 2010)
Disadvantages for Turkey
As it has
been mentioned previously, the functioning of the EU is based on laws and
regulations that all member states are expected to respect and obey. This means
that eventually Turkey would lose a lot of its sovereignty after joining the EU
since it would have to follow the EU rules even if they would be in opposition
to the national rules. (Chilongo, 2010) For example, if Turkey was to enter the
euro zone, it would have to adjust its prices according to the EU regulations.
This could have a negative effect in the economy for certain products that have
been valued at a higher price previously. There are also fines to be paid if a
member state fails to fix a situation the European Court of Justice has
requested to be taken care of. (Chilongo, 2010)
European Union is a largely harmonized union with no barriers between the
member states, the sense of national identity can be lost to certain extent.
Even though Turkey is an immense country with a rich culture and long history,
abolishing the border to Europe and being exposed to other countries’ habits
and citizens could have the effect of losing the cultural identity and
traditions in years to come.
Why Turkey has not been allowed to join the EU till
varying debates on the issue of why turkey has not been allowed to join the EU
and whether it is the EU that does not want turkey to join or it is Turkey
itself that is not fully committing to the process of being a full member. We will
discuss a few elements that attempt to shed light on this issue.
Geography and Borders
generally Turkey is not considered to be in Europe as the greater part of it is
consdiered to be in Asia. Historically it is the successor to the Ottoman
Empire which was hostile towards Europe. Only East Thrace is considered to be
in Europe geographically. Quoting Nicolas Sarkozy “not all countries have a
vocation to become members of the EU, starting with Turkey which has no place
inside the EU. -2007 Currently the EU only has borders with european countries/
or in europe. If turkey is to join the eu, this would mean that the eu will
have borders with countries Arab countries like Syria, Iran and Iraq which are
volatile countries. These countries are rife with civil conflict, civil wars
and terrorist attacks and having the eu share a border with such countries is
very unsettling for member states as this will bring instability and will go
against what the coalition stands for. The argument of Turkey being physically
in Europe does not hold water because this would disqualify Cyprus as a member
as well. Historically the EU has always
tried to have a control on immigrants coming into the EU. If Turkey becomes a full member in the EU, this
would mean that the EU shares borders with non-European countries. This would easily
create a “new route” for immigrants from different African and Arab countries
trying to make their way into Europe and this is something the EU is not ready
are predominantly Christian, whereas Turkey is almost an all Muslim population and
this could be a potential area of difficulty with intergrating this religion on
such a large scale in the EU. The EU does not want to risk an influx of Muslim
immigrants also given the recent decline in willingness to welcome immigrants
in Europe especially the anti-muslim sentiment as they are easily and unjustly
labelled “terrorists”. The EU cannot openly admit this aspect of religion as
they portray themselves to be open to all religions, but there is definitely a
hesitation on their part to welcome such a big Muslim population.
Balance of power
Germany has a
population of 82.67 million as of 2016 (world bank) and it is the most populus
EU member state. Turkey has a population of 79.1million and if it were to join
the EU, it would be the second largest member state. This would in turn mean
that there would be a shift in power in the EU institutions where voting seats
are distributed according the population size of member states. This is most
definitely unsettling for some of the EU members
Angela Merkel she insists on “privileged partnership” vs full integration.
Turkey needs to follow a foreign policy that is consistant with the EU. Turkey
on the other hand also rejects anything other than full membership
occupation of Northen Cyprus is another factor that is blocking its ascension
into the eu as well as the. This area under turkish occupation is recognised by
turkey alone and no other states.The republic of cyprus is a member of the EU
but Turkey does not officially recognise it. Turkey will only recognise it when
the political and economic sanctions imposed on the Turkish Republic of
northern cyprus are removed. Given this current state of affairs, the EU has
frozen negotiations on 8 chapters of the negotiations, which are requred to be
completed before the member states can vote on the accession. Cyprus can veto
turkey’s membership because it is a member and it has already done that in
Since the 1970s
Turkey and Greece have had an ongoing territorial battle with Greece on the
Aegean airspace. This territorial dispute that has been going on for so long with
Greece and the hostile relations with Cyprus has contributed to Turkey’s
application being deferred.
this refers to the EU body of law and this has to be adopted and implemented by
the country tht wishes to acceed to EU member status. For this to happen,
turkey would need to change parts of its national legislation to comply with
the eu law regulations. For turkey to stand a chance it has to to fully adopt
the aquis communautaire and there is no room for negotiation on this aspect.
This would mean that turkey has to undergo some fundamental changes that will
affect the society as the acquis affects all sectors and sections of the
population. In order for turkey to acceed, it has to ensure its institutions,
management and administrative capacity along with the judicial sector are at
par with EU standards from regional upto national levels.
Quoting – Jose
manuel Barroso “Turkey is not ready to join the eu, not tomorrow nor the day
after tomorrow” in july 2007. He then called on member states to continue talks
relating it being a matter of credibility.
said” we don’t want the full membership of turkey but we don’t want to lose
turkey as an important country.. in september 2011
juncker and Martin Schulz bith declared in 2014 that turkey would never join
the EU if either of them were Euro parliament president citing how turkey does
not uphold eu democratic values
It is clear
that EU does not want to acceed turkey and at the same time does not want to
lose it as key economic partner
the Turkish purge of 2016-2017, the relations between turkey and the EU became
strained and the euro parliament voted to suspend the accession talks over
human rights and rule of law concerns. In this regard Turkey has done itself a
dis-favour especially the status of Kurds in Turkey and the current debate on
the right to life, freedom,torture, freedom of religion, assembly and
this the EU itself is divided on which states want Turkey to join and those
states that do not support Turkey joining.
Countries For Accession
Countries Against Accession
Italy, Malta, Spain, Portugal
Finland and Sweden
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania
Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania
Croatia and Slovenia
Greece and Cyprus
It is intersting to note that
there are more members in favour of Turkish accession and yet still it is not
happening. In the near future the UK vote might not matter which could be a
positive for Turkey. Another interesting fact is that despite their hostile and
ongoing strained relations with Turkey, Greece and Cyprus are in favour of
Turkish Accession. This could be beneficial to both states as this could ensure
peace with turkey and resolve the ongoing disputes.
Arguments for Turkish Membership
Turkey’s geo-strategic position puts it at the
center of the energy resources which will reduce the EU’s dependency on Russia
for gas. According to (Hajiyeva, N 2017), the EU is currently faced with the
difficulty of maintaining the security of its gas supplies as it is dependent
of Russia and external states. Following the Ukrainian conflict, Russia been
the major exporter of gas to western countries tends to use its energy supplier
as a weapon against its importers therefore living the EU with no certainty of
reliability in the long term. Turkey been at the center of energy resources and
been a member of the EU will permit the EU to involve in different gas pipeline
projects with Caspian-basin countries, Middle East and North African energy
The EU is currently
facing consistent low birth rates and this is likely to be of major
significance in the years to come. This situation is therefore reducing the
people of working age and increasing the population of older persons (Eurostat,
2017). Faced with this, Turkey is likely to help Europe’s economy with its
young workers as its population is comprised of youths which is going to be a
balance for the increasingly ageing population of the current EU.
recorded by Daily Sabah (2017), Turkey has witnessed an economic growth of
11.1% in the 3rd quarter of the year and has become one of the
fastest growing economy alongside the G20 countries. An economic growth for Turkey will help the EU
since Turkey is already a key trade partner with the EU. Furthermore, Turkey
will be able to do a lot more in a single market and this can further boost the
EU trade figures.
According to Domanic (2007), Turkey’s
accession into the EU will create and strengthen the relationship between
Muslims and Christians, bring democracy and enhance religious freedom in the
Arguments against Turkish Membership
In as much as the EU will benefit from Turkey
as a solution to its ageing population, there are still concerns about the
Turkeys accession in relations to an increase in migration. So far, Turkey is
regarded as a state with the largest and less developed population in
comparison to other member states. With Turkeys unemployment rate been high and
still expected to increase, migrants will commit to migrate believing in a
chance for employment in the destination country. This situation is expected to
create high level of migratory pressure (Mehmet, U 2006).
not openly said, Turkey joining the EU is a threat to other member states as
turkey with its huge population will have many votes in the EU council and as
well as seats in the EU parliament thereby causing a shift in power.
will conclude by highlighting that Turkeys membership is likely to be a
positive choice for both Turkey and the EU, though we will recommend further analysis
on the assumptions of Turkeys membership.
In regards to Tocci, N (2014) comparative perspective,
countries like Croatia, Spain, Austria, Poland who applied to be EU member
states were granted full membership early enough in comparison to Turkey who
applied in 1987 and till today no response. In relation to Turkeys membership
application, the process seems to be obstructed by a couple of barriers thereby
leading to the conclusion that Turkeys entry into the EU is a journey of uncertainty.
The points below will give a brief description or explanation to a number of
Based on the European
Commission (2017) press release, in a speech made by the Jean-Claude Junker,
there is no foreseeable future for Turkey in the EU anytime soon based on the
fact that Turkey has been pulling away from the EU values. Turkeys actions
against the EU are said to be:
Ø The arrest
and imprisonment of German journalist.
referring to member states as fascist and Nazis.
According to the EU such actions serves as a
barrier to Turkeys accession. It is also asserted that this actions are
intentional in order to put the blame on the EU if Turkey is one day denied
membership. Irrespective of Turkeys actions against EU values, according to
theguardian (2010) there is need to note that there are other reasons as to why
Turkeys accession is been delayed such as:
Ø Its huge
population which is a threat to other member states (cause a shift in power) as
it will give Turkey more seats in the parliament.
Ø A huge population of Muslim’s in comparison to
Europe been populated with Christians.
Ø Turkey not
considered as been part of Europe based on its geographical grounds.
Several reason can account for the reason for
this delay but based on this, it right to conclude that in the years to come
the EU will either reject Turkeys membership or continue to act like Turkey is
been put into consideration.
In regards to Turkeys membership, Angela
Merkel’s speech prior to the Brussels meeting on 19th October were
she stated, “We definitely won’t make a decision” (Parking, B 2017). This
statement can be related to the assertion made by Tocci, N (2014) that the EU
will continue to pretend on the fact that they are negotiating on Turkey’s
member. With such uncertainty, it can be deduced that Turkey will at some point
withdraw its application for membership. Furthermore, the Turkish president
Recep Tayyip Erdogan argued that irrespective of Turkeys fulfillment of EU
requirements, the EU is still unable to respond positively to their request.
Again, due to this aspect, the Turkish president has threatened to cancel their
application if no other option or alternative is elaborated or established
(Butler, D 2017). In the future, Turkey will wear out of EU’s accusations and turn
to consider the EU as a liability as it will see no value added in joining the
Drawing from this complicated relationship,
the future on Turkeys membership remains highly uncertain. Nevertheless, the
scenario’s outlined remains possibilities and it is also important to note that
despite this uncertainty the will always be a link between Turkey and the EU
through its partnership in the Middle East, customs union and a common land