For quite some time, there have been debates of whether Turkey should be acceded into the European Union (EU). It is one of the nations that have applied for inclusion although it has been receiving accusations from the other members of EU. It’s been accused of not establishing an effective infrastructure network and there have been claims that it does not have a stable political and economic goodwill to be considered in the union. The relationship between Turkey and the union worsened in 1980 when it faced a political instability. Since then, it has been viewed as an unstable country which is not worth to be included in the union.
To be a member of the European Union, a country has to comply with the Copenhagen criteria. This criterion was recognized in 1993 at the Copenhagen European council. For a country to gain membership and in regards to the criteria, it has to observe the rule o the law, respect (human) rights, possess a competitive market economy and accept the set guidelines. Turkey is yet to implement some of the law requirement (Arikan 124). In 2002, the Copenhagen European council decided to open up negotiations for Turkey’s inclusion given that it fulfills the political requirement of the criteria.
Turkey started to make application for the entry to EU in 1987. Before then it had been an associate member of the EU since 1963. Turkey was among the first countries to become members of the council of Europe in year 1949 and was the founding member of both the organization for economic co-operation and Development and the organization for security and co-operative in Europe in 1961 and 1973 respectively. In the year 1995, Turkey entered into an accord (of custom union) with the European Union and its eligibility was (officially) recognized. Since 2005, negotiations started which are expected to last for a decade in the favor of Turkey becoming a member of the EU (Carkoglu & Rubin 64).
EU’s population as at 2004 covered about 7.2% of total population in the world having about 461 million persons which had grown from 406 million persons in 1970. During this time, a fifth of the population in EU was composed of young adults from the ages of 20 years and the rest were older people. In decades to come we will have the EU’s population being largely composed of old persons.
This poses a risk to Turkey entering the Union because with the high dependency rate, Turkey might find it self in a position where it is forced to cater for these old people. Within a union people are free to move from one country to another and if Turkey chooses to join it may suffer from overpopulation due to immigration. The high dependence rate has been caused by the improvement in the medical facilities. This has resulted in an increase in life expectancy at birth and it is expected that a girl child can live for more than 81 years and for boys about 75 years (El-Agraa 279). Another factor that has contributed to the Population increase in EU is international migration which started in the early 1990s until today. Before Turkey decides to join the Union, it has to consider both the positive side and the negative side of it.
Since its origin, EU has been experiencing issues in politics brought about by its enlargement. EU membership has increased drastically from 6 member states to the current 27 members. This increase was highest in 2004 when 10 states from Central and Eastern Europe joined the union. These enlargements have had both economic and political impacts. Patterns of integration have been affected on matters of security, economic development, and the levels of agriculture.
Majority of the states that have recently been incorporated in the union are poorer than the existing ones and have contributed to the drain in the economy (Levy 1). Most of them are not ready to adopt the euro making it even harder for the monetary and economic union.
Most of the EU member states have a declining GDP as a result of the increase in the population of the old people (65 and above) than in the young ones (0-15 years). Although, unemployment (rates) have gone down some young individuals are still with no jobs. If something is not done to improve employment among the youth, most of the country will be at higher risks of poverty. Turkey has large economy and it is believed to be among NATO‘s largest military force and this will influence EU’s current position in a great way. It has a strategic geographical location and economic stability and still holds some of the cultural ties which give it regional power.
Since 1930s, EU has been experiencing periods of economic recession which is expected to continue with a shrinking GDP. There has been evidence of some signs of economic improvement although the recovery process is still uncertain. In December 2008, the European Economic Recovery Plan (EERP) was launched which was to help restore and stabilize the economy. The main objective of EERP was to restore economic confidence through strategic investments and improvement on business and labor markets (European commission 3). The commission carried out an analysis which reviewed that unless policies were implemented to tackle the challenge, EU’s GDP could fall to significant low permanent levels. Factors that could lead to this are:
high levels of unemployment which leads to loss of skills
Low investment levels will result in a decrease in the stock of infrastructure and equipment or become outdated.
Research and development may be cut back which will result in low levels of innovativeness.
If Turkey is affiliated with EU, it will come to rescue EU from the current position. This is because Turkey has been known to be economically stable for quite some time. It can offer employment to some of the unemployed people within the Union which will help in raising the GDP. However, Turkey may stand to lose at the expense of helping the Union and therefore whatever it has to do after affiliation, it has to be careful.
It is believed that by fully becoming an EU member, Turkey will achieve a huge regional power which will not only benefit it economically but also its military force. EU is a one of the major universal economic players, being affiliated with it adds economic benefit to that country. Turkey’s strategic geographical location will also be of benefit to the nation. The artistic and extraordinary ties in the country provide a comparative advantage to Turkey compared to the other members of EU.
Natural resources are readily available in the country and it has a geopolitical specialty that manipulates the East Mediterranean, Black Sea, Middle East and the Central Asia which is believed to give power to its economic position (Onis 10). It is also believed that the accession of Turkey into the EU will greatly improve the significant role of the union in manipulation of the economic and political steadiness in the Eastern part of Mediterranean and Black Sea region. In spite of the fact that this region has been of major tactical interest in Europe, some of the members in EU are supporting Turkey’s inclusion in the union.
Upon joining the union, EU will benefit from the 71 million Turkish residents who can significantly boost up their market capability. With the current political stability in Turkey, the rest of the EU members now believe that it will be a good move to accede Turkey into the Union.
A few years ago, Turkey had been suffering from economic insecurity which banned foreign investors from investing in the Turkish market. This was abolished in 2004 and now Turkey stands at a better economic position than other union EU members. Foreign investors can now invest in the country freely without facing much regulation. Eventually, after its accession in the union, foreign investment will become easier and it will even have a chance of investing in other countries (Onis 20).
Research shows that since 1995 Turkey has considerably expanded its industrial productions in order to provide for its rising market demands. It has also successfully made use of the custom union benefit to advance its exports which was projected to be 142 billion USD in 2008. It is also clear that about half of Turkish exports are exported within the market of EU. It is approximated that about 40% of the Turkish imports come from EU market (Carkoglu & Rubin 232).
Turkey has a 1.5% (population) growth. Its populace is about 71.5 million people. This high population guarantees a ready market for local production and for foreign investment for the EU members. Turkey’s high GDP is a clear indication that it has a good local market and that the living standards of its citizens are good. If it’s fully integrated in the European Union, social and territorial solidity between Turkey’s citizen and the union members will earn some boost.
The organizational collaboration among members strengthens the economic development in the region. Turkey has administrative policies that fight against gender discrimination. According to the policies, every person is obliged to receive equal treatment in spite of the gender. The country is recognized for its support and respects of human rights especially the right of women. It is also known for supporting freedom of worship and religion.
If Turkey decides to join the union, its support for freedom of worship will not be curtailed since the EU also supports religion. Although EU previously faced discrimination on the grounds of religion in the access of medical cares and employment, the European Union foundations has been fighting against it. Largely, Turkey is dominated by Muslims. Now the Muslims can enjoy the freedom of worship, protection against discrimination, and the right to health. They can enjoy freedom of equality in any of the EU‘s states (Petrova 2)
European Union entitles all citizens of the 27 member states the freedom of living, traveling, and working in any country that they may choose. Citizens from the member countries are allowed to travel freely, and can reside anywhere within the EU jurisdiction. These privileges can hardly be found anywhere else. The union has various immigration programs among them being programs of foreign work, acquiring of citizenship and how citizenship can be inherited. Most of these programs can help one to obtain citizenship while others are just short term programs for the purpose of tourism or employment. EU laws are applicable in Turkey, thus a big advantage upon gaining membership (Brady 6). Other benefits to the citizens of Turkey towards joining EU are:
Acquire an EU passport
Can become resident of any EU country
Can obtain employment in any of the member states
Becomes citizens of an EU states
Can marry anywhere within the states of EU.
Being a citizen of EU simply means having some limited individual rights in any of EU country. Upon admission to EU, Turkey will enjoy freedom of movement among member states. Citizens can move from one country to another for tourism or vocational travel. In times when the country is faced with lack of competent staff locally, it can easily access them from any of the members of EU. It benefits from expanded markets internationally where the country can sell or purchase products without difficulties.
Citizens will have a wider variety of goods and services to choose from. These expansions in the markets will lead to improvement in economic development and living standards. Turkey will be able to minimize the level of its unemployment because many of the qualified workers who are unable to secure employment places locally can be allowed to work temporally in any of the other countries (Brady 7).
Politically the union has not been stable due to its diverse number in its membership. This makes it difficult to set rules and regulation. EU has allowed its members to travel or reside in any country of their choice and this may result in conflict of interest. Turkey may suffer such consequences when it’s fully integrated. This is because citizens from different countries are guided by different principles morally or ethically that may conflict with those of the countries they may choose to reside in. The freedom of travel from one country to the other in search for employment places may result in the drain of one country’s skill at the expense of another.
Turkey is a developed nation which stands to enjoy most of the benefits in the union. Such benefits are competitive advantage over the other nations due to its growth in economy, available of labor force and high chances of economic growth due to immigration. It will also benefit from regional integration and access to skilled labor force.
Although it is a good idea for Turkey to join EU, there are negative effects associated with that absorption. First, currently EU has enlarged at a very high rate and it is congested with members. Its economy has gone down and it is at the stage of recession which will take a long time before recovery takes place. For Turkey, upon joining this union it will suffer from economic depression because most of the citizens in other countries who have been affected by the recession will tend to seek refuge in Turkey thereby straining the country’s economy. Despite all this it is assumed that Turkey might be able to stand such economic instability due to its economic growth and expansion.
Another negative effect that turkey will suffer from is the drain of its productive skilled labor force. In EU, there is freedom of movement from one country to another and the skilled laborers from Turkey may choose to migrate to other countries if they are offered better terms. This may result in a decrease in productivity locally at the expense of other nations. To fight with this, Turkey has to ensure that it offers terms that are comparable with others states within the union (Levy 2).
The Turkish efforts to be incorporated into the EU have been receiving objections from some EU members. A problem which seems to be heavily based on this country’s cultural and religious believes. If Turkey succeeds in joining the EU it will be the first Muslim dominated nation to become an EU member. The accession process is estimated to complete in 2013 if all goes well. Turkey is expected to derive more economic benefit from the union than the other members. This is because of its stable economy and regional power due to its military force and high economic growth.
It is therefore ideal to conclude that there are more economic gains that Turkey can derive when it’s fully incorporated in the European Union. It has a large economy in regard to the general EU economies at large. This was evidenced after the signing of the custom union between Turkey and European Union in 1995. Since then, Turkey has been enjoying a stable economy with an increase in its export. The industrial production in the country has also expanded with an increase in the GDP.
On the other hand, EU has been suffering from a declining economy which does not seem to get better. If Turkey is acceded in the union, it might salvage the union from its current position. It is believed to have a strategic geographical location and regional power, which can be of great help to the union. Turkey will also benefit from the union in its economy. Its export is believed to rise and also its region is deemed to be empowered.
The continued human rights experiences in the Turkish economic environment enable the investors to effectively operate within it. The cultural advancement and freedom of worship and religion in the country also enables the residents to have no fear residing there. As a matter of fact it is because of such favorable environment that the country reports economic growth within its operations. This is expected to continue even after it accession because EU also upholds respect to human right and fights against discrimination.
Turkey will also benefit from free movement of people and goods in and out of the country. People can move at will from one country to another within the union and enjoy equal rights as the one enjoyed by the citizens of that particular nation. They can move freely in any of these countries in search of employment or for vocational tours. International trade will become easier because some of the tariffs will be abolished among the member states.
Arikan, Harun. Turkey and the EU: an awkward candidate for EU membership? Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006 p124. Web.
Brady, Hugo “EU Migration Policy: An A-Z” centre for European reform. 2010. Web.
Carkoglu, Ali and Rubin Barry M. Turkey and the European Union: domestic politics, economic integration. London: Routledge, 2003 p 64, 203-250. Web.
El-Agraa, Ali. The European Union: economics and policies. Cambridge university press, 2007 p. 279. Web.
European commission. “Economic crises in Europe. Causes, consequences and responses” European economy, 2009. Web.
Levy, Dean. “Political consequences of European’s union enlargement”. Associated content, Inc. 2010. Web.
Onis, Ziya. “Turkey, Europe, and Paradoxes of Identity: Perspectives on the International Context of Democratization”. Mediterranean Quarterly 10.3 (1999) 107-136. Web.
Petrova, Dimitrina and Clifford Jarlath. “Religion and healthcare in the European Union Policy issues and trends” Network of European foundation. Web.