Mapping EU-Turkey relations: State of play and options for the future

03-04-2017

2016 was a challenging year for relations between the European Union (EU) and Turkey, with the on-going management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the severe purge that followed, which the EU criticised for being disproportionately severe. Nevertheless, the EU and Turkey continued negotiations on Turkish accession to the EU and decided in December 2016 to upgrade the 20-year-old customs union. In the light of opinion polls in some Member States, and recent difficulties arising from Turkish politicians campaigning in the EU ahead of Turkey's April referendum on its constitution, as well as clear human rights breaches, a debate has emerged in some Member States about an alternative to enlargement, such as purely economic integration. Meanwhile, some believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the road to accession being paved with inevitable difficulties, accession remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by the European Council and Turkey, and provides potential for reform and dialogue over common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.

2016 was a challenging year for relations between the European Union (EU) and Turkey, with the on-going management of the migration crisis and the EU-Turkey agreement, the attempted military coup in Istanbul and Ankara, and the severe purge that followed, which the EU criticised for being disproportionately severe. Nevertheless, the EU and Turkey continued negotiations on Turkish accession to the EU and decided in December 2016 to upgrade the 20-year-old customs union. In the light of opinion polls in some Member States, and recent difficulties arising from Turkish politicians campaigning in the EU ahead of Turkey's April referendum on its constitution, as well as clear human rights breaches, a debate has emerged in some Member States about an alternative to enlargement, such as purely economic integration. Meanwhile, some believe the outcome of the negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU might also provide a possible model for Turkey. Despite the road to accession being paved with inevitable difficulties, accession remains the ultimate objective of EU-Turkey relations, endorsed by the European Council and Turkey, and provides potential for reform and dialogue over common standards, not least in the area of civil liberties.