Turkey-EU Relations

Important Dates in Turkey-EU Relations

12 September 1963: Ankara Agreement was signed (Effective date: 1 December1964)

1 January 1996: Customs Union between Turkey and the EU entered into force

10-11 December 1999: Turkey assumed “candidate status”

3 October 2005: Accession negotiations were launched

12 June 2006: Opening of first Chapter (“Chapter 25-Science and Research”) in the negotiations process (and it was provisionally closed)

14 December 2015: Opening of “Chapter 17-Economic and Monetary Policy”

30 June 2016: Opening of “Chapter 33-Financial and Budgetary Provisions”

Accession Negotiations

16 Chapters have been opened to negotiations so far and 1 of them (“25-Science and Research”) has been provisionally closed.

11 December 2006: The negotiations on 8 chapters cannot be opened (“1-Free Movement of Goods”, “3-Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services”, “9-Financial Services”, “11-Agriculture and Rural Development”, “13-Fisheries”, “14-Transport Policy”, “29-Customs Union” and “30-External Relations”) as a result of the EU Council decision of December 2006 and no chapters can be provisionally closed on the grounds that Turkey does not undertake its obligations stemming from the Additional Protocol to Ankara Agreement in its entirety

8 December 2009: Following the EU Council meeting of December 2009, Greek Cypriot Administration unilaterally stated that it would block the opening of 6 chapters (“2-Freedom of Movement for Workers”, “15-Energy”, “23-Judiciary and Fundamental Rights”, “24-Justice, Freedom and Security”, “26-Education and Culture”, “31-Foreign, Security and Defense Policy”).

In order to reenergize the accession negotiations, we give priority to the opening of chapters “23-Judiciary and Fundamental Rights”, “24-Justice, Freedom and Security”, “15-Energy”, “26- Education and Culture” and “31-Foreign, Security and Defense Policy”. At Turkey-EU Summit of 29 November 2015, the European Commission stated its commitment to accelerate the preparatory work for the opening of abovementioned chapters.

The Customs Union

The Customs Union (CU) which was established by Association Council Decision No. 1/95 and entered into force on 1 January 1996, has made a significant contribution to Turkey’s economy in twenty years. Trade volume between Turkey and the European Union (EU), which currently amounts to around €140 billion annually and has increased seven-fold, represents 41% of Turkey's global trade. The EU ranks first as far as imports and exports of Turkey are concerned. In addition, two thirds of the foreign direct investment to Turkey currently originates from the EU. Turkey is the EU's 5th largest partner in trade in goods.

The CU was established bearing in mind that Turkey would soon become a member of the EU. However, the Parties have faced structural problems regarding the implementation of the CU in the course of time due to certain factors such as the fast growth in Turkey’s economy and deepening of EU’s economic relations with third countries. The CU, as it is, has remained incapable of meeting the expectations of both Parties.

The European Commission asked for an advisory opinion from third parties regarding the problems emanating from the implementation of the CU. The World Bank prepared a Report on the subject in March 2014 evaluating the CU with its all dimensions. This Report constitutes the first building block of preparations for the revision process of the CU. The High Level Senior Officials Working Group discussed the chapters to be included in possible future negotiations on the modernization of the CU without prejudice to either party’s future negotiating position. The Parties agreed on a Document forming the negotiation framework on 12 May 2015.

The European Commission asked the Council for a mandate to launch talks with Turkey with the aim of modernising the CU. Once the Commission is granted the mandate, the negotiations are expected to be launched.

Turkey-EU Summits

The first Turkey-EU Summit was held in Brussels on 29 November 2015. The Summit was a first in terms of a meeting with the participation of Turkey, 28 member countries of the EU as well as the President of the three EU Institutions (EU Council, European Commission and European Parliament).

In the Joint Statement of the Summit, it was agreed to revitalize the accession process and to hold Turkey- EU Summits twice a year. It was also decided to hold Political Dialogue meetings at the Ministerial level, the second meeting of the High Level Economic Dialogue Mechanism and the High Level Energy Dialogue meetings in the first quarter of 2016. The EU Commission pledged 3 billion Euros financial assistance for Syrians under temporary protection in our country.

The second Turkey-EU Summit took place in Brussels on March 7, 2016, in the 28 + 1 format and with the participation of the President of three EU Institutions. In order to deepen our cooperation with the EU in the struggle against irregular migration in the Aegean, a proposal was made by Turkey with humanitarian purposes in mind. We have three main objectives in our proposal:

(1) to prevent loss of lives in the Aegean,
(2) to break the migrant smuggling networks
(3) to replace illegal migration with legal migration.

The third Turkey-EU Summit was held in Brussels on 18 March 2016. The Turkey-EU Statement was adopted as a result of the Summit. The main elements of the Statement are;

- All new irregular migrants crossing from Turkey into five Greek islands as from 20 March 2016 will be returned to Turkey,

- For every Syrian being returned to Turkey from Greek islands, another Syrian will be resettled from Turkey to the EU taking into account the UN Vulnerability Criteria.

- Once irregular crossings between Turkey and the EU are ending or at least have been substantially and sustainably reduced, a Voluntary Humanitarian Admission Scheme will be activated.

- The fulfilment of the visa liberalisation roadmap will be accelerated with a view to lifting the visa requirements for Turkish citizens at the latest by the end of June 2016

- The disbursement of the initially allocated 3 billion euros under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey will be speed up. The EU will mobilize additional funding for the Facility of an additional 3 billion Euros up to the end of 2018.

- The EU and Turkey welcomed the ongoing work on the upgrading of the Customs Union.

- The EU and Turkey reconfirmed their commitment to re-energize the accession process as set out in their joint statement of 29 November 2015. They welcomed the opening of Chapter 17 on 14 December 2015 and decided, as a next step, to open Chapter 33 during the Netherlands presidency.

- Working for joint endeavor to improve humanitarian conditions inside Syria, in particular in certain areas near the Turkish border which would allow for the local population and refugees to live in areas which will be safer.

Facility for Refugees

The disbursement process of 3+3 billion Euros pledged by the EU in order to meet the needs of Syrians under temporary protection in Turkey through the Facility for Refugees mechanism is being coordinated by Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency (AFAD) in cooperation with other relevant institutions in a project-based manner.

Political Dialogue Meetings at the Ministerial Level

Political Dialogue Meetings at the ministerial level are held with the participation of the High Representative of the EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations on the EU side and with the participation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister for EU Affairs on Turkish side. At the Turkey-EU Summit on 29 November 2015, it was decided to realize Political Dialogue meetings at the Ministerial levels on a regular basis.

Association Council

The Turkey-EU Association Council was established in accordance with the Ankara Agreement, which entered into force on 1 December 1964, and its first meeting was held on 1 December 1964. The Association Council meets at the Ministerial level and Turkey and the EU are represented equally.

Turkey-EU High Level Energy Dialogue Meeting

The first meeting of Turkey-EU High Level Energy Dialogue was held in Ankara on 15 March 2015. At the Turkey-EU Summit held on November 29, 2015, it was agreed to arrange the next meeting in the first quarter of 2016. The second Ministerial level meeting was held in Istanbul on 28 January 2016.

High Level Economic Dialogue Meeting

Turkey and the EU agreed on the establishment of a High Level Economic Dialogue Mechanism to further enhance their bilateral economic relations following of the Conclusions of Turkey-EU Summit held on 29 December 2015. Turkey and the EU held the first High Level Economic Dialogue meetings in Istanbul and Ankara on 24-26 April 2016. During the meetings, the Turkish delegation headed by Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek met with European Commissioners with portfolios in the economic field and exchanged views on the economic dimensions of Turkey-EU relations comprehensively.