Aktuelles > ECFR: Bringing Turkey back to the EU debate

Artikel Details:

  • 02.01.2013 - 14:17 GMT
  • ECFR
EU-Erweiterung, Außen- & Sicherheitspolitik

ECFR: Bringing Turkey back to the EU debate

By Dimitar Bechev & Nathalie Tocci
On the face of it, the euro crisis has infused yet more alienation into the already detached relations between Turkey and the European Union. Many Turks look at the trouble-stricken and enfeebled Union with an overt sense of Schadenfreude.

And they relish at their country’s robust growth. Shunned by the EU with membership talks effectively blocked, Turkey feels empowered. No longer on the European periphery, but at the centre of its own world spanning from North Africa and the Middle East all the way to the Balkans, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

The Arab Awakening seemingly vindicates this vision. But, as of late 2012, turmoil in Syria has exposed the limits of Ankara’s influence. Indeed now Turkey has turned to NATO allies for support.

These twin crises present an opportunity too. It is precisely from the depths of the Union’s ongoing drama that a “post-hubris” Turkey could be brought organically into the conversation on the future of Europe.

The current drive at deeper integration in the eurozone leads the Union towards a multi-tier arrangement. Could such a development facilitate Turkey’s inclusion in the EU-to-be and revive its Europeanisation and democratic consolidation?

Much depends on EU’s own evolution. We see three scenarios: EU of concentric circles, a daisy-shaped EU and a spaghetti bowl Union.

According to Scenario 1, the eurozone federalises huge chunks of economic and fiscal policy, the outer circle of members would continue to participate in the single market. Turkey may join the company of current members such as the UK, the Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden, as well as future entrants from the Western Balkans.

The likes of France and Germany will soften their opposition to Turkey, safe in the newly built core. Such a scenario, however, is not unproblematic. Fellow outer-circle members, from Poland through Romania and Bulgaria all the way to the Western Balkans, may consider Turkey as deadweight, permanently relegating them to the EU’s periphery and curbing their aspirations to converge with the prosperous and well-governed the core.

Poland would like to be in the first-class carriage, together with France and Germany. Turkey, for its part, while happy with retaining sovereignty, may also resent not sitting at the top table. The day Turkey discovers that it is handed down decisions on economic issues by the eurozone, it may well regret the bargain. Europhiles in Turkey will perhaps be unhappy too as Brussels’ transformative pressure will be diluted on the outer reaches of the Union.

A second option is a daisy-shaped EU: an integrated core with hub-and-spoke relationships with the “outs”. European Parliament member Andrew Duff foresees the growingly eurosceptic UK drifting away from the EU to settle for a deal echoing the partial integration of countries such as Norway and Switzerland.

Unsurprisingly, Turkey is cast as a member of that cohort of “associate” or “virtual members” too. It would adopt only part of the acquis and be admitted as observer in most EU bodies. In external and internal security policies, cooperate via intergovernmental deals, not Brussels’ supranational institutions.
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