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September 13, 2017

Why the Turkey negotiations will continue

We have argued before that the EU has lost its soul when it negotiated the money-for-refugees deal with Turkey, a decision that has dramatically weakened the EU's moral position. FAZ has a very good story that underlines this point. Even though Germany and Austria have shifted their official position and now support suspending EU accession talks with Turkey, this will have no real-world effect since too many member states oppose such a step. 

The paper cites the UK, Ireland, and Hungary as explicitly opposed; while Poland, Spain, France, and Estonia, have expressed a preference for continued talks. Alexis Tsipras has already called a break of accession talks a strategic mistake, and the paper writes that both Italy and Spain resist German wishes to reduce aid to Turkey from the European Investment Bank.

FAZ assumes that the refusal to sanction the human rights violations by the Turkish government has economic reasons. Turkey is the fifth largest trading partner of the EU - accounting for a total trade of €145bn. The EU's trade surplus with Turkey is €11bn. However, the relationship between the economic interests and the political position of the various countries is weak. Germany and Austria want diplomatic sanctions against Turkey, but they are also the countries with the strongest economic links. Other countries have financial interests there. The point is that all the member states have specific economic interests in their relations with Turkey.

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