EUObserver claim:  EU offers Turkey talks on new Customs Union in return for Swedish NATO accession

Andrew Rettman at EUObserver states that  EU has offered Turkey almost all it wanted in return for ratifying Sweden’s NATO entry, amid signs the saga is drawing to its climax.  As NATO and US ratchet up the pressure on Turkey to speedily expedite Sweden’s accession to NATO, this news item claims that   a new Customs Union treaty proposed by EU Commission Special Report on Turkey may actually be a promise.  The Report is viewed as recommendation to leaders which may or may not be adopted in the traditional year-end summit.



According to EUObserver, an offer including launching new talks on modernizing a 1995 EU-Turkey customs union and better visa-access to Europe for Turkish people was made.

It also included an upgrade in diplomatic relations more broadly speaking by reviving an EU-Turkey “association council” (yearly mini-summits with top EU officials) and regular ministerial-level talks on issues such as the economy, energy, trade, and transport.


EU leaders still have to bless the plan at their summit in Brussels on 13 December, said EU foreign-relations chief Josep Borrell on Wednesday (29 November).


Turkey would also have to refrain from gas-drilling in disputed East Mediterranean waters and from aggravating the Cypriot frozen conflict if things were to go smoothly, Borrell said.


But he hardly mentioned human rights, despite Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s despotic rule at home, with tens of thousands of political prisoners still languishing in his dungeons, including 58 journalists.


“This a positive report. We want to engage with Turkey,” Borrell said.


The visa offer meant “issuing more multiple-entry [EU] visas with longer validity”, especially for Turkish businessmen and students, EU neighborhood commissioner Olivér Várhelyi said.


Turkey had wanted visa-free travel instead of visa-facilitation, but this was not “realistic”, Várhelyi noted.


This is mainly because onerous EU benchmarks for visa-free travel would require far-reaching Turkish concessions, such as amending its anti-Kurdish terrorism laws.

PA Turkey is  following this news thread closely, because of two reasons. First, the prospect of concrete progress with EU could incentivize Erdogan to allow some human rights reforms at home, albeit very modest. Secondly, talks on a new and Expanded Customs Union would attract substantial   new financial investment to Turkey, and perhaps even much needed FDI.


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Published By: Atilla Yeşilada

GlobalSource Partners’ Turkey Country Analyst Atilla Yesilada is the country’s leading political analyst and commentator. He is known throughout the finance and political science world for his thorough and outspoken coverage of Turkey’s political and financial developments. In addition to his extensive writing schedule, he is often called upon to provide his political expertise on major radio and television channels. Based in Istanbul, Atilla is co-founder of the information platform Istanbul Analytics and is one of GlobalSource’s local partners in Turkey. In addition to his consulting work and speaking engagements throughout the US, Europe and the Middle East, he writes regular columns for Turkey’s leading financial websites VATAN and and has contributed to the financial daily Referans and the liberal daily Radikal.