The EU – Turkey customs union: a fairy tale about Turkish europeanization

Öz, Feyza
This thesis examines the historical process which led to the signing of the Customs Union Agreement/Decision between the EU and Turkey. For not only is the positive economic impact of the Customs Union on Turkish economy rather questionable, but also it has meant clear political losses for the country as she had to surrender her trade autonomy and gave significant concessions in the Cyprus issue to make the EU approve it. Via the Customs Union which was introduced by Turkish authorities as a stepping stone to the EU membership, Turkey indeed suppressed all industrial custom duties in her trade with the EU and has started implementing EU tariffs in her trade with the third countries, losing in return a significant diplomatic stake to be used in her full membership negotiations with the EU. This study attempts to analyze different perceptions in Turkey over this issue since the 1970s in order to understand why this unfortunate decision was taken without even the approval of the National Assembly. It will finally argue that besides the incumbent Government’s short-term electoral expectations, the Customs Union has paved the way for Turkey’s one-sided integration to the EU legislation within the chaotic political atmosphere of the 1990s, and hence helped limit the economic, if not the political, policy options of any future government. Thus, the Customs Union was not about trade relations only but ensured a more comprehensive framework for political action that locked in Turkey’s policy choices to a neoliberal path in a rapidly changing global and domestic political atmosphere.
Citation Formats
F. Öz, “The EU – Turkey customs union: a fairy tale about Turkish europeanization,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2012.