European Commission makes delicate overtures to Turkiye

European Commission makes delicate overtures to Türkiye

The European Investment Bank should invest in Türkiye again. The customs union must also be negotiated.

Brussels. The European Commission and the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, are in favor of a cautious EU approach towards Turkey. In a joint message to the 27 heads of state and government, they note that Turkey has demonstrated “a more constructive attitude” in several areas since June 2021. Specifically, the relationship with Greece has shown a “German improvement” since the beginning of this year. The strong earthquake in Turkey and Syria on February 6 was the reason for this. As of June 2021, there have been no unauthorized test drillings by Turkey in underwater gas fields, which are part of the exclusive economic zones of Greece and Cyprus.

Member States should therefore begin “discussions on the draft negotiating framework for the modernization of the customs union”. The EU and Turkey have formed one since 1995, although services, public contracts and investments are not included. There is also no effective dispute resolution mechanism and bilateral trade in agricultural and fishery products is not liberalized. Due to the Turkish leadership’s increasingly hostile attitude towards the EU, the Council halted preparatory work on a mandate to renegotiate the customs union in 2017.

Furthermore, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is expected to reopen in Turkey. The council stopped this in 2019. In their communication, the Commission and Borrell criticize the poor human rights situation in Turkey and the fact that Turkey is unlikely to accept irregular migrants from the Greek islands, which it in fact committed to doing in exchange for six billion euros from the EU in 2016.