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EU-Turkey Relations: Mapping Landmines and Exploring Alternative Pathways

Author: Eduard Soleri Lecha

Affiliation: Barcelona Centre for International Affairs

Organization/Publisher: Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS)

Date/Place: September 2019, Brussels, Belgium

Type of Literature: Policy Paper

Number of Pages: 23


Keywords: EU, Turkey, Customs Union, Public Opinion


The relations between EU and Turkey have a long history, culminating in Turkey’s application for full membership in the European Union in 1999. Since then, EU-Turkey relations have suffered from several close engagements and disengagements on both political and institutional levels. The author has elaborated various internal and external factors that have critically impacted on these relations. This paper explains the institutional differences between the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission (EC) and their respective approaches towards the accession of Turkey into the EU. According to the author, the EC wanted to intensify the level of cooperation with Turkey on already opened chapters of negotiations, but on the other hand the EP suspended the accession negotiations process in 2013. Recently, there has been a high trust deficit between the EU and Turkey which is alarming because spoiler states can easily exploit this situation to further deterioration. Both sides accuse each other for this lack of confidence– the EU claims that Turkey is not ready to comply with Copenhagen criteria, whereas Turkey accuses the EU for its bias and discriminatory behavior. This paper predicts three scenarios for EU’s dealings with Turkey:  cooperation, conflict and convergence; that most probably the EU needs to continue the fragile cooperation with Turkey to sustain this geopolitical engagement. The author concludes that people-to-people contact is required to build a harmonized and optimistic perception among masses regarding EU-Turkey relations.  

By: Muhammad Taimoor Bin Tanveer, CIGA Research Associate



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