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Turkey's EU accession process is sick but not dead

Friday, January 23, 2015

Subject

The prospects for Turkey's EU membership bid.

Significance

Trading and investment links between Turkey and the EU will continue to be strong. The economy of Turkey looks much healthier than those of EU Mediterranean states. Its leverage is much greater than a decade ago, while the EU now also regularly acknowledges Turkey's geo-strategic importance as an ally. The way is open for further economic integration beyond the Customs Union in primary agricultural products and services. A sign that Turkey's accession aspirations are still alive is that 2015 marks the first phase of an EU accession plan. Nevertheless, a leading Brussels think-tank, the Centre for European Policy Studies, has forecast that the hobbled accession negotiations will be "halted" on their tenth anniversary in October.

Impacts

  • With the rise of Islamic State, the United States and NATO will try hard to keep Turkey on side and avert outright rupture with the EU.
  • Turkey's attraction as a destination for trade, direct investment and the money markets will persist despite the EU membership stand-off.
  • Tighter control of the judiciary and restrictions on freedom of expression will increase the country's isolation from EU public opinion.
  • Defining itself more along Islamic lines, Turkey will have less interest in pro-EU symbolism or gestures implying a Western orientation.
  • Turkey will vociferously attack perceived Islamophobia in the EU, sometimes damaging bilateral relations with EU member states in so doing.
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