Customs union: EU makes overtures to Turkey
The EU has announced plans to expand the customs union to include Turkey, in a bid to encourage Ankara to find a constructive solution to its disputes with Athens and Nicosia. In 2018, the EU officially decided not to start negotiations with Turkey due to constitutional problems, and in December 2020 it threatened sanctions over Ankara's gas explorations. Why the change of heart?
US government has its fingers in the pie
The EU does not make its decisions regarding Turkey autonomously but is influenced by Washington, writes Hürriyet:
“The Democratic US administration has made strengthening democracy at the global level one of the main goals of its foreign policy. ... While the US and Europe are busy redefining their transatlantic relations, Turkey appears as a critical point in this dialogue. In an analysis after the EU summit in December, shortly after the US presidential election in November, we headlined with the words 'Does the road to Brussels pass through Washington?' ... Then last week we witnessed how Washington approached Brussels to shorten the road considerably.”
Don't reward Erdoğan
De Volkskrant says the EU has behaved rashly in offering Ankara an enlargement of the customs union now of all times:
“The timing is very unfortunate, as Erdoğan has just withdrawn from an important convention on the prevention of violence against women and is threatening to ban the Kurdish opposition party. Relations with Ankara are complex, and do not favour simple solutions such as expelling Turkey from Nato. The 2016 EU-Turkey deal could be justified by the emergency back then. Now, however, this is not so much the case. The EU is doomed to muddle through, but on the basis of self-respect and awareness of its economic strength. The EU 27 should have demanded a higher political price, also in terms of concrete legal steps. Now it looks like Erdoğan's policy of intimidation is being rewarded.”