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Student Number: 643244

Turkey Saga on EU Enlargement Process


At the end of January, current year, the French President Francois Hollande expressed
his opinion not to unblock any other chapters regarding Turkey`s accession process
(Retteman, 2014). There are approximately fourteen years since Turkey has been recognized
as a candidate country at the Helsinki Council and nine years since negotiations were started.
But what are the reasons for which Turkey is the most troubled European or European
trouble in the integration process, as scholars are calling it? Is this too long accession
process explained by integration theories?
Article 49 of TEU states that any European State which respects the values referred
to in Article 2 and is committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the
Union (European Union, 2012, p. 43), these values being human dignity, freedom,
democracy, equality, the rule of law, respect for human rights and minority rights, pluralism
and tolerance (European Union, 2012, p. 17). In assessing Turkey`s application it is
necessary to assess the level of its European identity. Even if the majority of the territory is in
Asia and 99.8% of the population`s religion is Islam (Kavas & Kavas, 2012, p. 151), Turkey
took major actions to become a westernized country: The EU reform policy of AKP
government democratized the country and led the start of accession talks in 2005. Moreover,
Turkey as a member of NATO aims to be a regional soft power and stabilize its neighbours.
Contrary to this, the Prime Minister Edrogan still showed an authoritarian leadership, France
using 2013 Turkeys mass-scale jailing of journalists to explain the Turkey needs to improve
their practice on the separation of powers, fundamental rights and the rule of law
(Retteman, 2014). This is also recommended by European Commission regarding Chapters
23 and 24 of the Turkey`s Progress Report (European Commission, 2013, pp. 44-67).
As any other candidate country, Turkey has as well to meet the Copenhagen criteria.
The first one refers to political stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of
law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. In this respect, Turkey has
demonstrated that is a shining and rare example in the Islamic world of a secular
democracy (Kavas & Kavas, 2012, p. 151). The second one refers to the existence of a
functioning market economy and capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market
forces within Union. Regarding this, Turkey has an emerging economy, its GDP per capita
raising from 4 000 in 2003, to 8 225 in 2012 and already it has a Custom Union with EU
since 1996 (Karakas, 2013, p. 1062). Opponents still consider this country too poor and too
agricultural as its GDP is 43% of EU average and agriculture is the largest economic sector
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Student Number: 643244

(Kavas & Kavas, 2012, p. 152). And the final and third criteria of acceptance of the
community acquis and Turkey`s ability to take on the obligations of membership, including
adherence to the aims of political, economic and monetary union represent a major concern.
For example eight chapters were blocked on 2006 only because Turkey refused to open its
ports and airports to ships and planes from Cyprus, and did not meet the obligations regarding
non-discriminatory implementation of the additional protocol to the Association Agreement
(European Commission, 2013, p. 4).
In applying integration theories to Turkey`s process of accession to EU an
interconnection between all the elements is revealed. On the one hand, the intergovernmentalist theory can be easily exemplified by the necessity of unanimous decision of
each Member State to conduct negotiations, accept a country as a candidate and finally as a
member. Even if the European Union aims to be a supranational Union, unanimity and veto
are still used in important issues. The academic argument is that Members are using their
bargaining power with applicants to impose conditions in order to create transition periods
(Karakas, 2013, p. 1062). On the other hand, between the Copenhagen criteria previously
mentioned and the three key features that Hass used in neofunctionalist theory to explain
regional integration is a great similarity. Substantial economic development, pluralistic social
structures and parliamentary democracy (Macmillan, 2009, p. 794) are needed, and Turkey seems to
make progress in these requirements. Scholars argue that integration itself is a result of spillover and
Turkey is not an exception as its desire to become a member of the European Union can be explained
by the attractive economic environment that can be offered. Turkey by becoming a member of the EU
it would be as well the biggest country, overtaking even Germany. Thus, political spillover needs to be
mentioned as it would modify institutions` structure, especially the European Parliament having a big
number of votes. In assessing the political spillover in the accession process, the Turkey NGOs
promoted in different campaigns the possible EU membership and benefits of integration (Macmillan,
2009, p. 799).

In conclusion, even if Turkey is expected to grow in the next two or three decades
(Kavas & Kavas, 2012) and economic development is important as neofunctionalism
predicts that integration begins with economic integration (Macmillan, 2009, p. 790), the
Community acquis still represents a major concern as improvement is needed in the fields of
freedom, corruption and human development (European Commission, 2013). After analysing
the literature it can be observed a general tendency of affirming that the overzealous
criteria imposition is causing a perception of unfair treatment. Moreover, Hollande brought
into discussion the Cyprus issues, therefore countries are using their veto right abusively.
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Student Number: 643244

Nefunctionalist theory gives three possible options for Turkey: spillback- failed accession
process, encapsulation- privileged membership and spillover- successful and complete
integration (Macmillan, 2009, p. 803). If we would take into account the privileged
membership, would not this create a precedent and destabilize for example EU UK
relationships? Moreover, bringing UK in discussion also reminds us of the Empty Chair
Crisis. Will this too long accession process end with Turkey`s membership and fallow the
path dependency feature of integration? Political preferences and decisions are again placed
above any other criteria, therefore all these events represent an opportunity for us to explore
the challenges and opportunities of the integration process.
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Student Number: 643244

Bibliography
European Commission. (2013, October 16). Turkey 2013 Progress Report.
Retrieved February 5, 2014, from European Commission:
http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/pdf/key_documents/2013/package/brochu
res/turkey_2013.pdf
European Union. (2012). Consolidated versions of The Treaty on European Union
and The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Official Journal
of the European Union, 55. Retrieved from http://eurlex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2012:326:FULL:EN:PDF
Karakas, C. (2013). EUTurkey: Integration without Full Membership or
Membership without Full Integration? A Conceptual Framework for
Accession Alternatives. Journal of Common Market Studies, 51(6), 1057
1073.
Kavas, A., & Kavas, E. D. (2012). Accession to the European Union: The Case of
Turkey. Global Conference on Business and Finance Proceedings, 7(2), 151155.
Macmillan, C. (2009). The Application of Neofunctionalism to the Enlargement
Process: The Case of Turkey. Journal of Common Market Studies, 47(4),
789-809.
Retteman, A. (2014, January 28). Hollande declines to open new EU chapter in
Turkey. Retrieved from EUobserver: http://euobserver.com/foreign/122889