|Turkish EU accession bid|
|This article is part of a series about the|
|Ministry of European |
Union Affairs of Turkey
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Turkey is negotiating its accession to the European Union (EU) as a member state, following its application to accede to the European Economic Community, the predecessor of the EU, on 14 April 1987. After the ten founding members, Turkey was one of the first countries to become a member of the Council of Europe in 1949. The country was also an associate member of the Western European Union from 1992 to its end in 2011. Turkey signed a Customs Union agreement with the EU in 1995 and was officially recognised as a candidate for full membership on 12 December 1999, at the Helsinki summit of the European Council.
Negotiations for full membership were started on 3 October 2005. Progress was slow, and out of the 35 Chapters necessary to complete the accession process only 16 had been opened and one had been closed by May 2016. The early 2016 refugee deal between Turkey and the European Union was intended to accelerate negotiations after previous stagnation and allow visa-free travel through Europe for Turks.
Since 2016 accession negotiations have stalled. The EU has accused and criticized Turkey for human rights violations and deficits in rule of law. In 2017, EU officials expressed that planned Turkish policies violate the Copenhagen criteria of eligibility for an EU membership. On 26 June 2018, the EU's General Affairs Council stated that "the Council notes that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union. Turkey’s accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen."
After the Ottoman Empire's collapse following World War I, Turkish revolutionaries led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk emerged victorious in the Turkish War of Independence, establishing the modern Turkish Republic as it exists today. Atatürk, President of Turkey, implemented a series of reforms, including secularisation and industrialisation, intended to "Europeanise" or Westernise the country. During World War II, Turkey remained neutral until February 1945, when it joined the Allies. The country took part in the Marshall Plan of 1947, became a member of the Council of Europe in 1949, and a member of NATO in 1952. During the Cold War, Turkey allied itself with the United States and Western Europe. The Turkish expert Meltem Ahıska outlines the Turkish position vis-à-vis Europe, explaining how "Europe has been an object of desire as well as a source of frustration for Turkish national identity in a long and strained history".
Turkey first applied for associate membership in the European Economic Community in 1959, and on 12 September 1963 signed the "Agreement Creating An Association Between The Republic of Turkey and the European Economic Community", also known as the Ankara Agreement. This agreement came into effect the following year on 12 December 1964. The Ankara Agreement sought to integrate Turkey into a customs union with the EEC whilst acknowledging the final goal of membership. In November 1970, a further protocol called the "Additional Protocol" established a timetable for the abolition of tariffs and quotas on goods traded between Turkey and the EEC.
On 14 April 1987, Turkey submitted its application for formal membership into the European Economic Community. The European Commission responded in December 1989 by confirming Ankara's eventual membership but also by deferring the matter to more favourable times, citing Turkey's economic and political situation, as well its poor relations with Greece and the conflict with Cyprus as creating an unfavourable environment with which to begin negotiations. This position was confirmed again in the Luxembourg European Council of 1997 in which accession talks were started with central and eastern European states and Cyprus, but not Turkey. During the 1990s, Turkey proceeded with a closer integration with the European Union by agreeing to a customs union in 1995. Moreover, the Helsinki European Council of 1999 proved a milestone as the EU recognised Turkey as a candidate on equal footing with other potential candidates.
The next significant step in Turkey–EU relations came with the December 2002 Copenhagen European Council. According to it, "the EU would open negotiations with Turkey 'without delay' if the European Council in December 2004, on the basis of a report and a recommendation from the Commission, decides that Turkey fulfills the Copenhagen political criteria."
The European Commission recommended that the negotiations should begin in 2005, but also added various precautionary measures. The EU leaders agreed on 16 December 2004 to start accession negotiations with Turkey from 3 October 2005. While Austria and Germany initially wanted to leave open the possibility that negotiations with Turkey would lead to a privileged partnership, less than full membership, accession negotiations were ultimately launched with the "shared objective" of membership.
Turkey's accession talks have since been stalled by a number of domestic and external problems. Both Austria and France have said they would hold a referendum on Turkey's accession. In the case of France, a change in its Constitution was made to impose such a referendum, but later another constitutional change has enabled the parliament (if a large majority of its members agrees) to prevent such a referendum. The issue of Cyprus continues to be a major obstacle to negotiations. European officials have commented on the slowdown in Turkish reforms which, combined with the Cyprus problem, led the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn in March 2007 to warn of an impending ‘train crash’ in the negotiations. Due to these setbacks, negotiations again came to a halt in December 2006, with the EU freezing talks in 8 of the 35 key areas under negotiation.
In December 2009, the Republic of Cyprus blocked 6 chapters of Turkish accession negotiations, including those on Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, Energy and Education and Culture, arguing that Turkey needs to first normalise relations with Cyprus. As a result, no chapters have been opened since June 2010. Hence, there is no chapter Turkey can open other than the difficult and economically detrimental chapters Competition Policy, Social Policy and Employment, and Public Procurement that most candidate countries open at the end of accession as all other chapters are blocked. In February 2013, Turkish Deputy Undersecretary of the Ministry for EU Affairs, Burak Erdenir, claimed that the EU had yet to communicate to Turkey the benchmark criteria for opening chapters 23 and 24, Judiciary & Fundamental Rights and Justice, Freedom & Security, which was to be done after screening of the chapters was completed in 2006, thus making it impossible to comply with them. He also suggested this was a deliberate attempt to slow their accession process.
After over 2 years of no chapter openings, the European Commission set up a "Positive agenda" designed to focus on common EU-Turkey interests. EU Commissioner for expansion Stefan Füle describes that the goal was "to keep the accession process alive and put it properly back on track after a period of stagnation which has been a source of frustration for both sides." 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”, “visa”, “mobility and migration”, “energy”, “fight against terrorism”, “further participation of Turkey in Community programmes”, “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”. The proposal was considered favorably on the condition that it serves as an instrument in support of and complementary to the 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 "Positive Agenda" kick-off meeting was held on 17 May 2012 in Ankara with the participation of Stefan Füle, EU Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy. As a result of the Working Groups meetings held so far, a total of four closing benchmarks were confirmed to have been met by Turkey in three chapters (Company Law, Consumer and Health Protection and Financial Control chapters).
In 2007, Turkey stated that they were aiming to comply with EU law by 2013, but Brussels refused to back that as a deadline for membership. In 2006 European Commission President José Manuel Barroso said that the accession process will take at least until 2021. In a visit to Germany on 31 October 2012, Turkish Prime Minister R.T. Erdoğan made clear that Turkey was expecting membership in the Union to be realised by 2023, the 100th Anniversary of the Turkish Republic, implying that they could end membership negotiations if the talks had not yielded a positive result by then. Turkish President Abdullah Gül said that upon completing the accession process Turkey will hold a referendum for Turkish membership in the European Union.
On 20 June 2013, in the wake of Ankara's crackdown on mass demonstrations in Taksim Square, Germany blocked the start to new EU accession talks with Turkey. According to the Financial Times, one Turkish official said that such a move could potentially break off political relations with the bloc.
A Eurobarometer poll which included EU countries and candidate countries as well, showed that 43% of Turks viewed the EU positively, as compared with 60% six months previously. In the same poll, 29% of Turks polled expressed support for an EU Constitution, the lowest level of support among EU countries and candidates polled. Germany says that its reservation stems from a technical issue, but Angela Merkel, an opponent of Turkish entry into the EU, has described herself as "shocked" after Ankara's use of overwhelming police force against mostly peaceful demonstrators. France stated that they would not waive their veto over unfreezing four accession chapters with Turkey until after elections for the European Parliament in June 2014.
The crackdown following the 2016 Turkish coup d'état attempt by President Erdogan damaged relations with the EU. Erdogan has indicated his approval of reinstating the death penalty to punish those involved in the coup, with the EU suggesting that this would end its EU ambitions. Erdogan stated in November 2016 that he was considering putting Turkey's continued negotiations with the EU on membership to a referendum in 2017. In November 2016, the European Parliament voted in favour of a non-binding resolution to request that the European Commission temporarily suspend membership negotiations due to the "disproportionate repressive measures" of the government to the coup. On 13 December, the European Council (comprising the heads of state or government of the member states) resolved that it would open no new areas in Turkey's membership talks in the "prevailing circumstances"; Turkey's path toward autocratic rule makes progress on EU accession impossible.
In April 2017, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) voted to reopen its monitoring procedure against Turkey. This vote is widely understood to deal a major blow to Turkey's perspective of eventual EU membership, as exiting that process was made a precondition of EU accession negotiations back in 2004.
The European Commission's long-term budget proposal for the 2021-2027 period released in May 2018 included pre-accession funding for a Western Balkan Strategy for further enlargement, but omitted Turkey.
On 26 June 2018, the EU's General Affairs Council stated that "the Council notes that Turkey has been moving further away from the European Union. Turkey’s accession negotiations have therefore effectively come to a standstill and no further chapters can be considered for opening or closing and no further work towards the modernisation of the EU-Turkey Customs Union is foreseen." The Council added that it is "especially concerned about the continuing and deeply worrying backsliding on the rule of law and on fundamental rights including the freedom of expression."
To accede to the EU, Turkey must successfully complete negotiations with the European Commission on 33 of the 35 chapters of the acquis communautaire, the total body of EU law. (Two chapters do not require negotiation.) Afterwards, the member states must unanimously agree on granting Turkey membership to the European Union.
|Acquis chapter||Screening Started||Screening Completed||Chapter Frozen||Chapter Unfrozen||Chapter Opened||Chapter Closed|
|Overview||33 out of 33[C 1]||33 out of 33[C 1]||17 out of 33||3 out of 17||16 out of 35||1 out of 35|
|1. Free Movement of Goods||16 January 2006||24 February 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|2. Freedom of Movement For Workers||19 July 2006||11 September 2006||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services||21 November 2005||20 December 2005||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|4. Free Movement of Capital||25 November 2005||22 December 2005||–||–||19 December 2008||–|
|5. Public Procurement||7 November 2005||28 November 2005||–||–||–||–|
|6. Company Law||21 June 2006||20 July 2006||–||–||17 June 2008||–|
|7. Intellectual Property Law||6 February 2006||3 March 2006||–||–||17 June 2008||–|
|8. Competition Policy||8 November 2005||2 December 2005||–||–||–||–|
|9. Financial Services||29 March 2006||3 May 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|10. Information Society & Media||12 June 2006||14 July 2006||–||–||19 December 2008||–|
|11. Agriculture & Rural Development||5 December 2005||26 January 2006||11 December 2006[C 2][C 4]||–||–||–|
|12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy||9 March 2006||28 April 2006||–||–||30 June 2010||–|
|13. Fisheries||24 February 2006||31 March 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|14. Transport Policy||26 June 2006||28 September 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|15. Energy||15 May 2006||16 June 2006||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|16. Taxation||6 June 2006||12 July 2006||–||–||30 June 2009||–|
|17. Economic & Monetary Policy||16 February 2006||23 March 2006||25 June 2007[C 4]||14 December 2015||14 December 2015||–|
|18. Statistics||19 June 2006||18 July 2006||–||–||25 June 2007||–|
|19. Social Policy & Employment||8 February 2006||22 March 2006||–||–||–||–|
|20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy||27 March 2006||5 May 2006||–||–||29 March 2007||–|
|21. Trans-European Networks||30 June 2006||29 September 2006||–||–||19 December 2007||–|
|22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments||11 September 2006||10 October 2006||25 June 2007[C 4]||12 February 2013||5 November 2013||–|
|23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights||7 September 2006||13 October 2006||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|24. Justice, Freedom & Security||23 January 2006||15 February 2006||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|25. Science & Research||20 October 2005||14 November 2005||–||–||12 June 2006||12 June 2006|
|26. Education & Culture||26 October 2005||16 November 2005||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|27. Environment & Climate Change||3 April 2006||2 June 2006||–||–||21 December 2009[C 2]||–|
|28. Consumer & Health Protection||8 June 2006||11 July 2006||–||–||19 December 2007||–|
|29. Customs Union||31 January 2006||14 March 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|30. External Relations||10 July 2006||13 September 2006||11 December 2006[C 2]||–||–||–|
|31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy||14 September 2006||6 October 2006||8 December 2009[C 3]||–||–||–|
|32. Financial Control||18 May 2006||30 June 2006||–||–||26 July 2007||–|
|33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions||6 September 2006||4 October 2006||25 June 2007[C 4]||18 March 2016||30 June 2016||–|
|35. Other Issues||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|Acquis chapter||Status as of April 2018||Chapter Status|
|Overview||4 chapters at an early stage
7 chapters with some level of preparation
12 chapters with moderate preparation
7 chapters with a good level of preparation
3 chapters which are well-prepared
2 chapters in which there is nothing to adopt
|16 chapters opened |
16 unopened chapters
2 chapters with nothing to adopt
|1. Free Movement of Goods||Good level of preparation||Open |
|2. Freedom of Movement For Workers||Early stage||Open |
|3. Right of Establishment & Freedom To Provide Services||Early stage||Open |
|4. Free Movement of Capital||Moderately prepared||Open|
|5. Public Procurement||Moderately prepared||Open|
|6. Company Law||Well prepared||Open|
|7. Intellectual Property Law||Good level of preparation||Open|
|8. Competition Policy||Some level of preparation||Open|
|9. Financial Services||Good level of preparation||Open |
|10. Information Society & Media||Some level of preparation||Open|
|11. Agriculture & Rural Development||Some level of preparation||Open |
|12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy||Some level of preparation||Open|
|13. Fisheries||Early stage||Open |
|14. Transport Policy||Moderately prepared||Open |
|15. Energy||Moderately prepared||Open |
|16. Taxation||Moderately prepared||Open|
|17. Economic & Monetary Policy||Moderately prepared||Open|
|18. Statistics||Moderately prepared||Open|
|19. Social Policy & Employment||Some level of preparation||Open|
|20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy||Good level of preparation||Open|
|21. Trans-European Networks||Well prepared||Open|
|22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments||Moderately prepared||Open|
|23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights||Early stage||Open |
|24. Justice, Freedom & Security||Moderately prepared||Open |
|25. Science & Research||Well prepared||Closed|
|26. Education & Culture||Moderately prepared||Open |
|27. Environment & Climate Change||Some level of preparation||Open|
|28. Consumer & Health Protection||Good level of preparation||Open|
|29. Customs Union||Good level of preparation||Open |
|30. External Relations||Moderately prepared||Open |
|31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy||Moderately prepared||Open |
|32. Financial Control||Good level of preparation||Open|
|33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions||Some level of preparation||Open|
|34. Institutions||N/A||Open |
*Nothing to adopt
|35. Other Issues||N/A||Open |
*Nothing to adopt
|Acquis chapter||EC Assessment At Start||EC Assessment in 2015||EC Assessment in 2016||EC Assessment in 2018|
|1. Free Movement of Goods||Further efforts needed||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|2. Freedom of Movement For Workers||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage|
|3. Right of Establishment For Companies & Freedom To Provide Services||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage|
|4. Free Movement of Capital||Further efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|5. Public Procurement||Totally incompatible with acquis||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|6. Company Law||Considerable efforts needed||Well prepared||Well prepared||Well prepared|
|7. Intellectual Property Law||Further efforts needed||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|8. Competition Policy||Early stage||Moderately prepared||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation|
|9. Financial Services||Considerable efforts needed||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|10. Information Society & Media||Further efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Some level of preparation|
|11. Agriculture & Rural Development||Early stage||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation|
|12. Food Safety, Veterinary & Phytosanitary Policy||Early stage||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation|
|13. Fisheries||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage||Early stage|
|14. Transport Policy||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|15. Energy||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|16. Taxation||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|17. Economic & Monetary Policy||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|18. Statistics||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|19. Social Policy & Employment||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Some level of preparation|
|20. Enterprise & Industrial Policy||No major difficulties expected||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|21. Trans-European Networks||Considerable efforts needed||Well prepared||Well prepared||Well prepared|
|22. Regional Policy & Coordination of Structural Instruments||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|23. Judiciary & Fundamental Rights||Considerable efforts needed||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation||Early stage|
|24. Justice, Freedom & Security||Considerable efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|25. Science & Research||No major difficulties expected||Well prepared||Well prepared||Well prepared|
|26. Education & Culture||Further efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|27. Environment and Climate Change||Totally incompatible with acquis||Moderately prepared||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation|
|28. Consumer & Health Protection||Further efforts needed||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|29. Customs Union||No major difficulties expected||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|30. External Relations||No major difficulties expected||Well prepared||Good level of preparation||Moderately prepared|
|31. Foreign, Security & Defence Policy||Further efforts needed||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared||Moderately prepared|
|32. Financial Control||Further efforts needed||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation||Good level of preparation|
|33. Financial & Budgetary Provisions||No major difficulties expected||Early stage||Some level of preparation||Some level of preparation|
|34. Institutions||Nothing to adopt (N/A)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|35. Other Issues||Nothing to adopt (N/A)||N/A||N/A||N/A|
early stage / very hard to adopt
considerable efforts needed
some level of preparation
further efforts needed
no major difficulties expected
good level of preparation
well prepared / well advanced
Until the accession process is terminated, Turkey receives payments from the EU budget as pre-accession support, currently 4.5 billion allocated budget for the 2014–2020 period (about 740 million Euros per year).
In June 2017, the EU's financial watchdog, the European Court of Auditors, announced that it would investigate the effectiveness of the pre-accessions funds which Turkey has received since 2007 to support rule of law, civil society, fundamental rights, democracy and governance reforms. Turkish media commented that "perhaps it can explain why this money apparently failed to have the slightest effect on efforts to prevent the deterioration of democracy in this country."
|Member countries||Population||Area (km²)||Nominal GDP
per capita (US$)
The problem of Turkey's membership of the EU is compounded by conflicting views as to what the EU should ultimately become. This has played a significant role in the debate, due in part to the Eurozone crisis and the fact that as a result of this the eurozone and the EU overall is more federalised on both fiscal, legal and political levels than it was at the time of Turkey's application or at the time that Turkey was accepted as a candidate. Generally those members of the EU who support a rights-based free trade bloc do not oppose Turkey as adamantly as those who support a broader political union. The latter, in particular, are concerned that unification would be frustrated and the European project threatened by Turkey's inclusion.
Proponents of Turkey's membership argue that it is a key regional power with a large economy and the second-largest military force of NATO after the United States that will enhance the EU's position as a global geostrategic player and its Common Foreign and Security Policy; given Turkey's geographic location and economic, political, cultural and historic ties in regions with large natural resources that are at the immediate vicinity of the EU's geopolitical sphere of influence; such as the East Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, the Middle East, the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia.
According to the former Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, "the accession of Turkey would give the EU a decisive role for stability in the eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which is clearly in the strategic interest of Europe". Two of Turkey's key supporters for its bid to join the EU are Poland and the United Kingdom.
Upon joining the EU, Turkey's 76 million inhabitants would bestow the second-largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament. Demographic projections indicate that Turkey would surpass Germany by 2020. However, as a single country can only hold a maximum of 96 seats in the European Parliament, this would not give Turkey an advantage in the European Parliament.
Turkey's membership would also affect future enlargement plans, especially the number of nations seeking EU membership, grounds on which Valéry Giscard d'Estaing has opposed Turkey's admission. Giscard has suggested that it would lead to demands for accession by Morocco. Morocco's application is already rejected on geographic grounds; Turkey, unlike Morocco, has 3% of its territory in Europe. The vast majority of its population lives in the Asian side of the country. On the other hand, the country's largest city, Istanbul, lies mostly in Europe. On the other hand, Cyprus, which is geographically located in Asia, joined the European Union in 2004. Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated in January 2007 that "enlarging Europe with no limit risks destroying European political union, and that I do not accept ... I want to say that Europe must give itself borders, that not all countries have a vocation to become members of Europe, beginning with Turkey which has no place inside the European Union."
EU member states must unanimously agree on Turkey's membership for the Turkish accession to be successful. In December 2011, a poll showed that as much as 71% of the participants surveyed in Austria, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom were opposed to Turkey's membership in the European Union. A number of nations may oppose it; notably Austria; Germany (chancellor Angela Merkel has long rejected Turkey's accession bid, and has proposed a "privileged partnership" instead); and France (where some[who?] are anxious at the prospect of a new wave of Muslim immigrants, given the country's already large Muslim community).
Negotiations to remove the French constitutional requirement for a compulsory referendum on all EU accessions after Croatia resulted in a new proposal to require a compulsory referendum on the accession of any country with a population of more than 5% of the EU's total population; this clause would mainly apply to Turkey and Ukraine. The French Senate, however, blocked the change in the French constitution, in order to maintain good relations with Turkey. The current situation according to the French constitution is as follows: if 3⁄5 of the delegates (from the Senate and the Parliament) agree to the accession of Turkey, there will be no referendum.
Upon accession to the EU, Turkey expects to receive economic development aid. There is also an expectation that there will be an increase in European foreign investment in the Turkish economy, further driving economic growth. During potential economic crisis events, Turkey could benefit from EU assistance.
Free movement of people across the EU will give many Turkish people the opportunity to migrate to other parts of Europe in search of work, or a higher standard of living. The option of migration out of Turkey will inevitably ease tensions in the east of the country, as the prospect of a better standard of living will tend to cool separatist tendencies. However, there have been problems concerning irregular transit migration through Turkey to the EU.
Some secularists in Turkey envisage that the accession of Turkey will contribute to the spread of secular western values in Turkey. Conversely, some non-secularists in Turkey envisage that accession will contribute to the further growth and acceptance of Islam in Europe. The EU accession bid has stimulated Turkey's political and legal reforms and intensified the democratisation process.
Given Turkey's large and growing population, Turkey will have a correspondingly large representation in the European Parliament. This will give Turkey strong direct influence over EU policies. Membership in the EU should also increase Turkey's prestige regionally and internationally.
Turkey has taken advantage of a customs union with the European Union, signed in 1995, to increase its industrial production destined for exports, while at the same time benefiting from EU-origin foreign investment into the country. In 2008, Turkey's exports reached US$141.8 billion (main export partners: Germany 11.2%, UK 8%, Italy 6.95%, France 5.6%, Spain 4.3%, US 3.88%; total EU exports 56.5%.) However, larger imports amounting to about US$204.8 billion threaten the balance of trade (main import partners: Russia 13.8%, Germany 10.3%, China 7.8%, Italy 6%, USA 4.8%, France 4.6%, Iran 3.9%, UK 3.2%; total EU imports 40.4%; total Asia imports 27%).
According to Forbes magazine, Istanbul had a total of 37 billionaires in 2013, ranking 5th in the world behind Moscow (84 billionaires), New York City (62 billionaires), Hong Kong (43 billionaires) and London (43 billionaires).
The opening of talks regarding the Economic and Monetary Policy acquis chapter of Turkey's accession bid was expected to begin in June 2007, but were stalled by France. Turkey became the European Union's fifth-largest trade partner in 2015 according to data released by Eurostat.
Turkey is set to receive EUR 9.2bn from the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, a funding mechanism for EU candidate countries.
As of 2005[update], the population of Turkey stood at 71.5 million with a yearly growth rate of 1.5%. The Turkish population is relatively young, with 25.5% falling within the 0–15 age bracket. Turkey's large population would alter the balance of power in the representative European institutions. Upon joining the EU, Turkey's 80 million inhabitants would bestow it the second largest number of MEPs in the European Parliament.[failed verification] Demographic projections indicate that Turkey's population will surpass Germany's by 2020. This means Turkey would get the maximal number of representatives in the European Parliament, equal to Germany's.[failed verification][dubious ]
In 2018, the population of Turkey is estimated at 82 people million.
Cyprus was divided when, on 20 July 1974, Turkey invaded and occupied a third of the island in response to an Athens-engineered coup aimed at annexing Cyprus to Greece. Since then, Turkey has refused to acknowledge the Republic of Cyprus (an EU member since 2004) as the sole authority on the island, and recognizes the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus since its establishment in 1983. The Turkish invasion in 1974 and the resulting movement of refugees along both sides of the Green Line, and the establishment of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983, form the core issues which surround the ongoing Cyprus dispute.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots backed the 2004 Annan Plan for Cyprus aimed at the reunification of the island, but the plan was subsequently rejected by Greek Cypriots on the grounds that it did not meet their needs. According to Greek Cypriots, the latest proposal included maintained residence rights for the many Anatolian Turks who moved to Cyprus after the invasion (and their descendants who were born on the island after 1974), while the Greek Cypriots who lost their property after the Turkish invasion would be granted only a restricted right of return to the north following the island's proposed reunification. Although the outcome received much criticism in the EU as well, the Republic of Cyprus was admitted into the EU a week after the referendum.
The Turkish government has refused to officially recognise the Republic of Cyprus until the removal of the political and economic blockade on the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkey's non-recognition of the Republic of Cyprus has led to complications within the Customs Union. Under the customs agreements which Turkey had already signed as a precondition to start EU membership negotiations in 2005, it is obliged to open its ports to Cypriot planes and vessels, but Turkey has not complied so far; refusing to do so until the EU eases the international isolation of Northern Cyprus. In February 2013, Turkish EU Minister Egemen Bağış told the Republic of Cyprus, "if you truly want salvation, truly want peace, then remove your blockade of Ercan Airport to EU member countries and Turkey will open its ports to you."
Turkey's refusal to implement a trade pact between Turkey and the EU that requires the Turkish government to allow Greek Cypriot vessels to use its air and sea ports has prompted the EU to freeze eight chapters in Turkey's accession talks.
In November 2009, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil Çiçek declared that, should Turkey be forced to choose between supporting either EU membership or Turkish Cypriots, "[then] Turkey’s choice will forever be to stand next to the Turkish Cypriots. Everybody should understand this."
The issue of Turkish membership has been contentious in Greece. An opinion poll from 2005 suggested that only 25% of Greeks believe Turkey has a place in the European Union. The former Greek Prime Minister Kostas Karamanlis stated that Turkish membership of the EU could only be predicated upon, "full compliance, full accession" in December 2006. In 2005 the European Commission referred to relations between Turkey and Greece as "continuing to develop positively" while also citing a key barrier to progress being Turkey's ongoing claim of casus belli over a dispute about territorial waters boundaries. In September 2017, Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, mentioned that halting accession talks with Turkey would be a strategic mistake by the European Union, amid a war of words raging between Germany and Turkey. Also, former Greek Prime Minister, George Papandreou, has urged European Union leaders to keep the doors open to Turkey and to continue dialogue with the Turkish government, in an apparent reference to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's calls for the suspension of accession talks with Turkey.
Turkey has a secular constitution, with no "official" state religion, although the chief imam (currently Mehmet Görmez) is a civil servant and head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, or Diyanet. 82% of the Turkish population is Muslim of whom over 70% belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. A minority is affiliated with the Shi'a Alevi branch. Turkey would be the first Muslim-majority country to join the European Union.
Official population census polls in Turkey do not include information regarding a person's religious belief or ethnic background due to the regulations set by the Turkish constitution, which defines all citizens of the Republic of Turkey as Turkish in terms of nationality, regardless of faith or race.
There is a tradition of secularism in Turkey. The state has no official religion nor promotes any, and actively monitors the area between the religions. The constitution recognises the freedom of religion for individuals, whereas religious communities are placed under the protection of the state; but the constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party, for instance) or establish faith-based schools. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief; nevertheless, religious sensibilities are generally represented through conservative parties. Turkey prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both sexes in government buildings, schools, and universities; the law was upheld by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights as legitimate in the Leyla Şahin v. Turkey case on 10 November 2005. However, in 2010, the prohibition of wearing headscarfs in universities was lifted.
Cultural differences between Muslim majority Turkey and predominantly Christian Europe play an important part in the entire debate on Turkish accession to the European Union. In an analysis, based on the World Values Survey, the social scientists Arno Tausch and Almas Heshmati came to the conclusion that a robust measurement scale of global economic, political and social values and Turkey's place on them wields only a very qualified picture of Turkey's place on the maps of global values. The study, which is based on 92,289 representative individuals with complete data in 68 countries, representing 56.89% of the global population, looks at hard-core economic values in the countries concerned. From nine dimensions for the determination of the geography of human values, based on a promax factor analysis of the available data, six factor analytical scores to calculate a new Global Value Development Index were used, which combines: avoiding economic permissiveness; avoiding racism; avoiding distrust of the army and the press; avoiding the authoritarian character; tolerance and respect; and avoiding the rejection of the market economy and democracy. Turkey is ranked 25, ahead of several EU member countries. But there are still considerable deficits concerning the liberal values components, which are very important for an effective democracy. The deficits, the study argues, suggest that the Turkish state, Turkish civil society and European decision makers would be well advised to continue to support civil society and secular democracy in Turkey.
In 2004, the French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier stated that Turkey must recognise the systematic massacres of Armenians in 1915 as a genocide. However, he insisted that although France did not set a precondition for European Union entry regarding the matter, he stated that France would raise the issue during negotiations. The President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, stated that it must be a precondition for Turkey to recognise the systematic massacres of Armenians in 1915 as genocide.
The government of Turkey rejects such a precondition for EU membership and does not accept it as a part of the EU membership criteria.
In 2006, the European Parliament voted against a proposal to formally add the issue as a membership criterion for Turkey. A similar proposal by Greek and Greek Cypriot MEPs was also rejected by the European Parliament in 2011.
In 2013, during the case of Perinçek v. Switzerland, the European Court of Human Rights judged that "The existence of a genocide, which was a precisely defined legal concept, was not easy to prove. The Court doubted that there could be a general consensus as to events such as those at issue, given that historical research was by definition open to discussion and a matter of debate, without necessarily giving rise to final conclusions or to the assertion of objective and absolute truths."
In contravention of European Union directives on human rights, Turkey banned LGBT pride parades in 2015 and 2016. Reasons given for the ban were security concerns, and religious sensitivities caused by holding the parade during the month of Ramadan.
Article 301 states that "a person who publicly insults the Turkish nation, the State of the Republic of Turkey, or the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months and two years" and also that "expressions of thought intended to criticise shall not constitute a crime."
The EU was especially critical of this law during the September 2005 trial of novelist Orhan Pamuk over comments that recognised the deaths of thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians. Enlargement commissioner Olli Rehn and members of the European Parliament called the case "regrettable", "most unfortunate", and "unacceptable". After the case was dropped three months later, Turkey's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül indicated that Turkey may abandon or modify Article 301, stating that "there may be need for a new law". In September 2006, the European Parliament called for the abolition of laws, such as Article 301, "which threaten European free speech norms". On 30 April 2008, the law was reformed. According to the reform, it is now a crime to explicitly insult the "Turkish nation" rather than "Turkishness"; opening court cases based on Article 301 require the approval of the Justice Minister; and the maximum punishment has been reduced to two years in jail.
Kemal Kerinçsiz, an ultra-nationalist lawyer, and other members of Büyük Hukukçular Birliği (Great Jurists Union) headed by Kerinçsiz, have been "behind nearly all of [Article 301] trials." In January 2008, Kerinçsiz was arrested for participating in an ultra-nationalist underground organisation, Ergenekon, allegedly behind the attacks on the Turkish Council of State and Cumhuriyet newspaper, the assassination of several Christian missionaries and Armenian-Turkish journalist Hrant Dink, as well as allegedly plotting the assassination of Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.
Turkey gave women the right to vote in 1930 for municipal elections. In 1934 this right was expanded for the national elections, while women were also given the right to become elected as MPs in the Turkish Parliament, or for being appointed as Ministers, Prime Minister, Speaker of the Parliament and President of the Republic. In 1993 Tansu Çiller became the first female Prime Minister of Turkey.
In its second report on women's role in social, economic and political life in Turkey, the European Parliament emphasised that respecting human rights, including women's rights, is an essential condition for Turkey's membership of the EU. According to the report, Turkey's legal framework on women's rights "has in general been satisfactory, but its substantive implementation remains flawed."
Turkey is one of two states (along with Azerbaijan) among the 47 members of the Council of Europe which refuse to recognise the status of conscientious objectors or give them an alternative to military service.
Turkey is a transcontinental country located in both Asia and Europe. 95% of Turkey's territory lies in Asia and 5% of its territory lies in Europe. Only a small portion of Turkey is located in the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. Istanbul, the largest city, is also spread across the two continents. The European side of the city contains places like Sultanahmed, Taksim, Sariyer, and Eyup. The Asian side of the city contains places such as Kadikoy, Bostanci, etc.
Public opinion in EU countries generally opposes Turkish membership, though with varying degrees of intensity. The Eurobarometer September–October 2006 survey shows that 59% of EU-27 citizens are against Turkey joining the EU, while only about 28% are in favour. Nearly all citizens (about 9 in 10) expressed concerns about human rights as the leading cause. In the earlier March–May 2006 Eurobarometer, citizens from the new member states were more in favour of Turkey joining (44% in favour) than the old EU-15 (38% in favour). At the time of the survey, the country whose population most strongly opposed Turkish membership was Austria (con: 81%), while Romania was most in favour of the accession (pro: 66%). On a wider political scope, the highest support comes from the Turkish Cypriot Community (pro: 67%) (which is not recognised as a sovereign state and is de facto not EU territory and out of the European institutions). These communities are even more in favour of the accession than the Turkish populace itself (pro: 54%). Opposition in Denmark to Turkish membership was polled at 60% in October 2007, despite the Danish government's support for Turkey's EU bid.
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The opening of membership talks with the EU in December 2004 was celebrated by Turkey with much fanfare, but the Turkish populace has become increasingly sceptical as negotiations are delayed based on what it views as lukewarm support for its accession to the EU and alleged double standards in its negotiations particularly with regard to the French and Austrian referendums. A mid-2006 Eurobarometer survey revealed that 43% of Turkish citizens view the EU positively; just 35% trust the EU, 45% support enlargement and just 29% support an EU constitution.
Moreover, Turks are divided on whether to join at all. A 2007 poll put Turkish support for accession to the EU at 41.9% (up from 32% in 2006), with 27.7% opposed and 24.0% indifferent. A 2009 poll showed that support for accession had risen to 48%, even as negative views of the EU had risen from 28% to 32%. A 2013 poll showed Turkish support for the EU bid at one third of the population, and opposition to double that share.
According to the Transatlantic Trends survey for 2013, 60% of Turks have an unfavourable view of the European Union and most Turks believe that working with Asia is more important to their national interests than working with Europe. Around 44% of Turks believe EU membership could be good for the economy in contrast with 61% for EU citizens. During an interview with Euractiv, EU Minister Egemen Bağış stated that: "This is what Europe needs to do; they need to say that when Turkey fulfills all requirements, Turkey will become a member of the EU on date X. Then, we will regain the Turkish public opinion support in one day."
"... under my Presidency of the Commission ... no further enlargement will take place over the next five years. As regards Turkey, the country is clearly far away from EU membership. A government that blocks Twitter is certainly not ready for accession."
the General Affairs Council decided in June 2018 that accession negotiations with Turkey are effectively frozen.
February 20: European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee agreed on a draft resolution that calling for the suspension of EU accession negotiations with Turkey.
It would potentially shift the balance of power within the EU having the largest influence after Germany.
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