Turkey in the EU?
Formally, Turkey is nowadays the leading candidate in the accession negotiations. However, the process has been suspended due to Turkey’s backsliding toward authoritarian rule. Effectively, this makes its current accession to the EU nearly impossible. In addition, Turkey’s candidacy has raised an unprecedented opposition in the EU. This is mostly due to its demographic potential – its population has already reached 80 million people and is still growing – as well as the country’s internal problems related to the situation of Kurds and Alevis, combined with Turkey’s political polarisation and conflicts with the neighbouring countries, some of which are EU members. Equally relevant is Turkey’s specific culture represented by its more conservative Muslim society. Having applied for the EU membership over 30 years ago, Turkey had its status approved only 20 years later. Its accession negotiations have now continued for nearly 15 years.
Turkey’s integration process cannot be reactivated without the country’s deep democratisation. This scenario, albeit more real than in the case of Russia, is rather unlikely as the authoritarian rule of the current elites seems to enjoy a relatively high support in the society. The democratisation of Turkey would probably not change the clearly negative attitude of many European citizens and EU member states to its accession. Brexit may be expected to only reinforce their way of thinking, with the EU being increasingly more identified with the eurozone. Also, in Turkey itself the support of the society and new political elites for joining such an internally deeply integrated EU may now be much lower than several years ago.
This material is a part of the report “Enlarged in diversity: The EU enlargement process and its perspectives” prepared by the Polish Robert Schuman Foundation. The whole report will be available in June 2019.