Is Turkey joining the EU?
Admitting Turkey into the European Union
By: Sara Csornai
Recep Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan has linked his support for Sweden’s NATO bid with Turkey’s own application to join the EU. “You cannot link the two processes,” said European Commission spokeswoman Dana Spinant, but back to the roots, why is Turkey struggling to integrate and join the EU?
Turkey’s Euro-Atlantic integration processes has been ongoing for the past seven decades, with the country being an official candidate country for the European Union since December 1999. Since then, only limited progress has been made because of the disagreements that have arisen between the two sides regarding a number of areas, and the accession talks have stalled. Oliver Varhelyi, the EU commissioner for neighborhood and enlargement said, “The negotiations for accession are at a standstill. And for this to be remobilized, there are very clear criteria set out by the European Council that need to be addressed. These criteria are related to democracy and the rule of law”.
The European Union and Turkey have had a troubled past, first Turkey became a NATO member in 1952 and soon after, the first relations were established in 1959, fast forward to the 1963 Ankara agreement the institutional framework was officially formalised.
Nevertheless, Turkey is a key strategic partner to the European Union and it’s important to highlight the factors that contribute to the connection of both parties, such as energy, security, migration, trade, economy and the fight against terrorism that link Turkey and the European Union to cooperate and work for a common goal. However the question stands, will the stalled accession negotiations between Turkey and the EU continue?
Turkey is a strategic partner, with a large and powerful military the country could potentially offer a strong military presence to the EU in a geo-politically vital region. Turkey also occupies a strategic location and is a significant NATO ally with strong participation to achieve peace in Lebanon and Afghanistan. Laurent Fabius, French foreign affairs minister with other EU officials said that “admitting Turkey into the EU would possibly give access to a new ally in the fight against terrorism, with a regional advantage”. Turkey could serve as a bridge (of civilisations) between the Islamic world and Europe since the perfect location, some even believe that Turkey is “better equipped” to calm the heightened tensions between the West and the Middle East.
The admission of Turkey would allow a fresh influx of workers and a young population (of workers) for Europe, who are well-educated, which provides the ageing EU population with a demographic form of its workforce. With the fastest growing economy, Turkey sends half of its exports to the EU, gaining the position of being the 7th largest market, trade between Turkey and the EU gained major importance, especially in the past 5 years, along with Turkey serving a key role, as slowly becoming one of the largest energy corridor to Europe, (after Russia) and the Middle East, showcasing again that if tensions were to increase, the EU does not rely on the
Middle East for energy and supplies. “The European Union cannot be a truly global actor without Turkey,” Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said “It is vital that the path to Turkey’s EU membership is cleared and the perspective for membership is revitalized.”
The most important cases include the increase of Trade between the two parties, with the European Union gaining access to markets that were either previously hard to reach or close to impossible to enter. Turkey would be a provider of cheap and reliable raw material sources and cheap and skilled workers who are young and educated. The acceptance of Turkey would result in the rapid change of the European economy in a positive direction, with easy access and free movement of goods, capital and people, the diplomatic, political and cultural tools for both the EU’s and Turkey’s external relations would profoundly improve.
If the European Union would use cooperative implementation and different policies from the existing customs already applied in/on Turkey, growth would be guaranteed, especially in fields such as education, agriculture and energy.