Turkey-EU Relations

Turkey-EU Relations (General)

Europe is our common home that we have united around common norms, principles and values. As a part and parcel of the European family, Turkey not only has influenced the political, economic and socio-cultural developments in the Continent but has also been influenced by them. An overall evaluation of the history of Europe cannot be made without analyzing the role that Turkey played in the Continent. As in the past, the destinies of Turkey and other European countries are intertwined. We face the future together. In this context, our goal to become an EU member is a strategic choice.

Turkey’s accession will increase the size of the European internal market and strengthen the relative competitiveness of the Union in the global economy. Turkey will constitute a true asset for the Union, with its geostrategic location, large economic potential, educated and dynamic population and with its visionary and multidimensional foreign policy. Turkey’s accession to the EU will bring an added value to the Union, not a burden. Carrying forward this relationship with the ultimate goal of membership is of a strategic importance for both Turkey and the EU.

Turkey continues to take resolute steps towards full membership. Development of democracy and human rights, institutionalization of free market economy and establishment of modern life standards in every field are among the most fundamental dynamics of Turkey's EU policy.

The Ankara Agreement and the Additional Protocol of 1970:

Turkey-EU relations were initiated in the framework of the association regime based on the Ankara Agreement which was signed with the European Economic Community on 12 September 1963 and took effect on 1 December 1964.

The Ankara Agreement envisaged three stages for the integration of Turkey and the EU, namely a preparatory stage, a transitional stage and a final stage. The completion of the Customs Union was planned at the end of the transitional stage. With the finalization of the preparatory stage as foreseen in the Agreement, provisions of the transitional stage and the obligations of the Parties were determined in Additional Protocol signed on 13 November 1970 and put into effect in 1973. The Ankara Agreement also explicitly specified that the partnership regime that it established would facilitate Turkey's accession to the EU.

The Customs Union:

With the completion of the transitional period, the Customs Union, which constitutes an important stage of Turkey's integration with the EU, entered into force on 1 January 1996. The Customs Union provided a high level of integration between the Parties and Turkey set EU membership as its next goal, as indicated in the Ankara Agreement (Article 28). The Customs Union continues to be a fundamental dimension of our relations with the EU. (The main organs of the existing association regime are the Association Council, the Association Committee, the Customs Cooperation Committee and the Joint Customs Cooperation Committee.)

On the other hand, bilateral free trade agreements have gradually become widespread in the world and their contents have been deepened and extended in a way that will cover all the dimensions of trade. The free trade agreements recently concluded by EU with the countries such as South Korea, Canada and Singapore fall within this scope.

Further improving Turkey's commercial relations with EU has become a necessity at this juncture. Taking into account the experience gained from the existing Customs Union and the positive effects of harmonization of legislation carried out as a candidate country to the EU membership, enhancement of commercial relations will make Turkey and EU one of the most important trade partners of each other. We also think that such a development will provide mutual economic benefits for both parties and accelerate the EU membership process of Turkey.

With this understanding, we continue to negotiate with the EU Commission to clarify the methods to be followed in order to upgrade commercial relations and the Customs Union on the basis of mutual benefit.

The Helsinki Summit, Turkey's "Candidate Status" and the Opening of Accession Negotiations:

A new era began in the relations between Turkey and the EU after Turkey assumed “candidate status” during the Summit of Heads of State and Government in Helsinki on 10-11 December 1999. At the Brussels Summit on 16-17 December 2004, the decisions taken in the 1999 Helsinki Summit were reaffirmed, as the Council took note that Turkey sufficiently fulfilled the political criteria and decided to open accession negotiations with Turkey on 3 October 2005. Accession negotiations were launched on that date as planned.

Negotiation process:

In the accession process, 13 chapters (“4-Free Movement of Capital”, “6-Company Law”, “7-Intellectual Property Law”, “10-Information Society and Media”, “12-Food Safety, Veterinary and Phytosanitary Policy”, “16-Taxation”, “18-Statistics”, “20-Enterprise and Industrial Policy”, “21-Trans-European Networks”, “25-Science and Research”, “27-Environment”, “28-Consumer and Health Protection”, “32-Financial Control”) have been opened to negotiations so far and 1 of them (“25-Science and Research”) has been provisionally closed.

On 29 July 2005, the Additional Protocol extending the Ankara Agreement to the new member States that acceded to the EU in 2004 was concluded by an exchange of letters among Turkey, the EU Presidency and the Commission. An official declaration to legally constitute an integral part of our letter and signature was also made. In the declaration, it was explicitly stated that Turkey, by signing the Additional Protocol, did not recognize the “Republic of Cyprus” by any means.

The negotiations on 8 chapters cannot be opened at present (“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 (Turkey’s position with respect to Greek Cypriot Administration).

On the other hand, in 2007 France has declared that it will not allow the opening of negotiations on 5 chapters (“11-Agriculture and Rural Development” (one of the 8 chapters blocked due to Additional Protocol), “17-Economic and Monetary Policy”, “22-Regional Policy and Coordination of Structural Instruments”, “33-Financial and Budgetary Provisions”, “34-Institutions”) as they were considered directly related with membership by France. France recently lifted its blockage on chapter 22 in February 2013 and the aforementioned chapter has been launched in Intergovernmental Conference held in Brussels on 5 August 2013. President Hollande of France underlined during his visit to Turkey on 27-28 January 2014 that France will not be the country to block the negotiation process.

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”).

It is a commitment of the EU to carry out the negotiations on chapters only on the basis of the relevant acquis. Both during institutional contacts with the EU and meetings with the representatives of the EU member states, Turkey emphasizes that the technical negotiation process should not be slowed down for political reasons. At present, efforts are underway to revive the negotiation process.

New EU strategy of Turkey and Action Plan for Accession to the EU:

Reform efforts are resolutely continued.in parallel with the expectations of Turkish people and within the harmonization work with the EU acquis

In this respect, "New EU strategy of Turkey" announced in September 2014 aims to establish new communication channels between Turkey and the EU and accelerate the reform process. This strategy is established on the basis of resoluteness, sustainability and efficiency and consists of three legs: "Political Reform Process", "Socio-economic Transformation during the Accession Process", EU Communication Strategy."

Domestic dimension of the EU Communication Strategy was prepared to enhance the support to Turkey's EU Membership within the public opinion in Turkey and the EU and announced in October 2014. It aims to reinforce the confidence of Turkish people in Turkey's accession process to EU as a modernization and democratization process, which will raise the living standards in every field as well as to enhance the support to the reforms. Foreign dimension of the Communication Strategy aims to ensure the coherence of the facts and perceptions concerning Turkey within EU public opinion; re-establish the mutual confidence and underline the determination, self-confidence and sincerity of Turkey with regards to the EU process.

"National Action Plan for the Accession to EU" has been prepared on the basis of this Strategy. The Action Plan is the roadmap putting forward the steps to be taken and the priorities to be adopted in order to sustain and strengthen the political reforms in Turkey and the on-going socio-economic transformation. The first phase of the Action Plan which covers the activities to be carried out during November 2014-June 2015 period was announced on 30 October 2014. Its second phase concerning the work to be carried out during June 2015-June 2019 period was announced on 1 December 2014.

Progress Report:

The EU Commission publishes every autumn a “Progress Report” stating its views on the developments of the current year concerning Turkey’s alignment with the EU’s acquis and in this context on the progress in accession negotiations with the EU.

The EU Commission, along with the Progress Reports on every candidate and potential candidate country, circulates an Enlargement Strategy document comprising assessments on its enlargement agenda.

The latest Progress Report and Enlargement Strategy document on Turkey were published on 8 October 2014.

Positive Agenda:

The EU Commission in its Enlargement Strategy published on 12 October 2011 proposed to develop a “Positive Agenda” between Turkey and the EU. The EU Commission mentioned a broad range of areas as the main elements of the Agenda such as “intensified dialogue and cooperation on political reforms”, “visas”, “mobility and migration”, “energy”, “fight against terrorism”, “further participation of Turkey in Community programs”, “town twinning”, “trade and the Customs Union” and “supporting efforts to align with the acquis, including on chapters where accession negotiations cannot be opened for the time being”. We have accepted the proposal on the condition that it serves as a supportive and complementary tool for our negotiation process with the EU.

In the framework of “Positive Agenda” Working Groups were established on 8 chapters (“3-Right of Establishment and Freedom to Provide Services”, “6-Company Law”, “10-Information Society and Media”, “18-Statistics”, “23-Judiciary and Fundamental Rights”, “24-Justice, Freedom and Security”, “28-Consumer and Health Protection” and “32-Financial Control”).

The opening meeting of the "Positive Agenda" was held on 17 May 2012 in Ankara also with the participation of Stefan Füle, European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood. As a result of the Working Group meetings conducted so far, it has been confirmed that Turkey has met a total of five closing benchmarks in three separate chapters.

Relations with the European Parliament:

Turkey attaches particular importance to close cooperation with the European Parliament (EP) and the national parliaments of the EU member states. Parliamentary contacts between Turkey and the EU have significantly intensified over the last years.

The plenary meetings of the EP in Strasbourg and Brussels are regularly followed by Turkish parliamentarians. Turkish Parliament’s EU and Foreign Affairs Committees have regular contacts with their counterparts in the EU member countries and the relevant committees of the EP.

The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), the only parliamentary body between Turkey and the EU, established in 1965 by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and the EP, serves as a platform to exchange views on the accession process and all related issues. The 76th JPC meeting was held in Ankara on 19-20 March 2015.

The EP adopts each year a “Resolution on Turkey" based on the Commission’s Progress Report. The EP's last report on the situation in Turkey was adopted on 12 March 2014.

The EP's Resolutions, to the extent they are fair and balanced, are reference documents to help carry forward the accession and reform processes.

Current Status of Trade and Economic Relations:

Turkey is the 6th largest economy in Europe. At the same time, Turkey is a country with extensive trade and economic relations with the Union. The EU is our largest trading and investment partner. Nearly 40 percent of our foreign trade in 2014 was conducted with the EU member states. This figure rose to 42% in the first three months of 2015. 64% of the foreign direct investment in our country originates from the EU.

High-Level Economic Dialogue with the EU:

In order to discuss various aspects of our economic relations, high-level economic dialogue with the EU is being enhanced. In the concluding document adopted by the EU General Affairs Council, which met on 16 December 2014, it was specified that the establishment of a regular economic dialogue between the EU and Turkey would be beneficial. In this framework, the preparations to organize the first meeting are ongoing.

Energy Dialogue:

The EU and Turkey have common interests in energy security. Turkey-EU high-level energy dialogue was launched during a visit the EU Commissioner for Energy Alliance Maroš Šefčovič paid to Turkey on 16-17 March 2015.

Turkey’s Contributions to EU Operations and Missions:

Turkey contributes to the civilian and military operations conducted by the EU. Turkey’s contributions in this framework are not only due to its status as a candidate for the EU membership, but also make up an element of its multilateral foreign policy aimed at supporting international and regional peace and stability. The EUFOR-ALTHEA operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the EULEX mission in Kosovo and EUPOL COPPS in Palestine are the EU operations and missions which Turkey currently contributes to. Turkey has contributed to nine EU operations and missions in total up to now.

Recent High Level Visits and Meetings:

- President Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan paid a visit to Brussels during his term of office as Prime Minister, and met the EU authorities (Presidents of the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament) on 21 January 2014.

- During his Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu met High Representative Ashton and EU Commissioner Füle in the margin of the Munich Security Conference held between 31 January 2014 and 2 February 2014.

- During his Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu participated in Turkey-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue Meeting held with the participation of High Representative Ashton and Commissioner Füle, in Brussels on 10 February 2014. Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, the then Minister of EU Affairs, participated in the meeting as well.

- During his Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu participated in the working dinner with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the member and candidate countries in Brussels in the margins of the EU Foreign Affairs Council on 10 February 2014.

- During his Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu met EU Commissioner Stefan Füle in the margins of the NATO Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Brussels on 1 April 2014.

- During his Foreign Ministry, Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu participated in the working breakfast held with the participation of the candidate countries on 5 April 2014 during the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) held in Athens on 4-5 April 2014.

- During his EU Affairs Minisrty, Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu paid a visit to Brussels on 9-10 April 2014 on the occasion of the 74th meeting of the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee and had various contacts, notably with EU Commissioner Füle.

- The former EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle paid a visit to Turkey on 16-17 June 2014. On this occasion, EU Commissioner Füle was received by the President of Turkey and met Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of EU Affairs, Minister of Economy, Minister of Justice and President of the Constitutional Court.

- The 52nd Meeting of the Turkey-EU Association Council was hosted by the then EU Affairs Minister, Foreign Minster Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu with the participation of the President of the Council of the European Union and Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and EU Commissioner Füle in Luxembourg on 23 June 2014.

- The 30th meeting of the Reform Monitoring Group was held in Erzurum on 23 July 2014.

- The former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso paid a visit to Turkey on 29 September 2014 to participate in the World Economic Forum meeting.

- The first meeting of the Reform Action Group was held in Ankara on 8 November 2014.

- The 75th Meeting of the Turkey-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was held in Brussels on 11 November 2014

Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr. Johannes Hahn EU Commissioner Responsible for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations and Mr. Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner Responsible for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management paid a visit to Turkey from 8 to 9 December 2014. On the occasion of the visit, they met President Mr. Erdoğan, Prime Minister Mr. Davutoğlu, Deputy Prime Ministers Ali Babacan and Yalçın Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, Minister of Justice Bozdağ and other high level officials. Moreover, Ms.Mogherini and Mr. Stylianides proceeded to Gaziantep on 9 December 2014 and visited Öncüpinar accommodation center in Kilis where Syrian citizens are granted temporary protection.

- Prime Minister Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu paid a visit to Brussels and met the President of the EU Council Tusk, President of the EU Commission Juncker and High Representative Mogherini on 15 January 2015.

- The second meeting of the Reform Action Group was held in Ankara on 21 January 2015.

- Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu participated in the Informal Meeting of Foreign Ministers (Gymnich) held in Riga with the participation of Foreign Ministers of the member and candidate countries on 6-7 March 2015.

- The 76th JPC meeting was held in Ankara on 19-20 March 2015.

- Mr. Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, paid a visit to Turkey on 7-10 April 2015.

- The 53rd Meeting of the Turkey-EU Association Council was held in Brussels on 18 May 2015. Before the Meeting, Foreign Minister Mr. Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu and EU Affairs Minister Mr. Volkan Bozkır attended an unofficial dinner together with Ms. Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mr. Johannes Hahn, EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement, and they discussed Turkey-EU relations as well as current regional developments.