Is Turkey a member of the EU? is a frequently asked question concerning Turkey – EU relations. Turkey, a beautiful country situated in the heart of two continents has always been the talking point of the world. Be it their mesmerizing and stellar architectures, a newfound enormous gas field in the Black Sea, or their relationship with the EU – Turkey has always been the major fascination for the world’s top debaters and bureaucrats.
Is Turkey a member of the EU?
Among these firing topics, Turkey’s membership regarding the EU has always enjoyed more spotlight and has been a real eye-roller. The burning question that has been asked since 1987 is that; is Turkey a member of the EU?
Calling Turkey a member of the EU is a very far-fetched sentence but you can declare it as just a part of the European Union. The Sporadic journey of talks and no real substance has put Turkey in limbo over its role as a member of the EU. There have been many reasons why Turkey is still not given the official membership of the Union.
The stalled talks have been affecting both the country and the EU in a major way and hindering their progression. Let’s see how the whole process was begun and why the talks have come to a standstill in recent times.
The Ankara Agreement: A Bodacious Beginning
In the year 1919, a bold and ferocious man decided to make Turkey free from any leadership and launched and waged a war against dictators to revoke the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres. Mustafa Kemal Pasha, the man who pioneered and established Turkey as an independent country was the first president of the new Turkey. He aimed to eliminate all the religion-based and multi-communal Ottoman constitutional monarchy into a nation-state that would be governed under the secular constitution.
Slowly and steadily, Turkey was becoming the powerhouse of the world and that prompted the Turkish government to fulfill their long-lasting desire of becoming an active member of the newly established and young European Economic Community.
Turkey was one of the first countries to seek close relationships with European countries. This cooperation was put to pen on the 12th of September, 1963. This “Association Agreement”, also known as the Ankara Agreement provided the framework to be a part of the EU.
A three-step process was initiated by the EU and to help Turkey to secure its membership in the Union. Upon acceptance, the customs union would start the integration of Turkey’s economic and trade policies, a mandatory step as per the council.
An Association Council was then formed with the help of the Ankara Agreement and it could control Turkey’s development and make decisions. Both Turkey and the EU agreed on the Agreement’s Additional Protocol.
The Agreement included conditions such as the free circulation of workers, virtually being in harmony with the EEC policies related to the internal market. The drawbacks were huge as Turkey was excluded from political positions and barred its recourse in the European Court of Justice.
The main game-changer between Turkey and EU membership was the reformation of EEC from the EU and the force of the Lisbon Treaty.
Turkey – EU Relations History
When Turkey submitted its application to be a formal member of the EU in 1987, the European Commission took its time and responded two years later after diving deep into all the factors. They accepted the Ankara Agreement but postponed the consideration till further notice.
The prime reasons were Turkey’s economic and political situation being in chaos. The poor relation with Greece and the conflict of Cyprus was creating an unrest atmosphere in the union itself. This position was confirmed again when the Luxembourg European Council was held in 1997.
At that summit, accession talks began with the central and eastern European states and Cyprus, but the absence of Turkey impacted and featured on the front page. In 1995, Turkey agreed to a customs union and inched closer to the integration with the European Union.
The Helsinki European Council was seen as a big step towards the future at that time for Turkey’s inclusion in the EU as the Union recognized it as a potential candidate on an equal level with other candidates.
However, it was a short-lived dream as the Copenhagen Political Criteria proved to be a huge hindrance in Turkey’s bid to become a full-fledged member of the European Union. In 2005, talks began but it was merely a thin cover over detailed conditions and precautionary measurements.
Austria and Germany wanted to have a privileged partnership with Turkey instead of full membership and accession negotiations were launched to initiate a shared objective of membership. Time passed and the talks were just stalling due to one or another reason.
However, in 2007, Turkey announced that they were trying to comply with the laws of the EU by the year 2013 but Brussels refused that idea. A year later, EU president José Manuel Barroso stated that it will at least take 2021 to start the accession process.
However, the final blow came in 2016 when a crackdown happened after the Turkish coup d’état attempt by president Erdoğan as it damaged the relationship with the EU completely. When he announced the death penalty for people involved in the coup, the EU firmly told that their dream to become an active member of the European Union will meet its final fall.
On 20th February 2019, a European parliament voted against the accession talks and that was the end of Turkey’s European dream.
Turkey as a Member of EU: The Positives and Negatives
The conflicting views of EU members have been the real reasons why Turkey is at crossroads with EU membership. The main reason why these members are opposing Turkey’s inclusion in the Eurozone crisis. The EU is at its lowest on fiscal, legal, and political levels upon Turkey’s application to become an EU member. It will negatively affect the condition of all the members and that is why countries have to oppose the thought of giving Turkey a member of the EU.
While on the other side, the accession of Turkey would give the EU much-needed stability and control over the eastern part of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. However, the biggest dilemma for the EU is Turkey’s geolocation as only 3% of the area is included on the European side. This will encourage demands from Morocco to be included in the EU.
All these pros and cons have affected Turkey’s quest to become a member of the EU.
These factors have played a huge part in Turkey’s path to be an active member of the European Union. The fact that the question is still lingering over the EU and suspended talks have further dented the chances of Turkey’s status as a member of the EU.