Reuniting Europe

Whether we like it or not, the EU is becoming a two speed union. Sarkozy says there is “too much integration” among the 27 and too little among the 17 eurozone members.

It may look like a forced marriage, but eurozone countries need to build a real union.

Britain for one is happy about the development and plans to repatriate powers from Brussels, and to become more influential via-a-vis the rest of the union. Cameron said he wanted to re-shape the Union as a network rather than a bloc.

With a budget prey to austerity, it wouldn’t be a surprise if the EU would become a much loser union than it is today.

Logically, big decisions would be taken in the eurozone, while the EU would rather be a discussion club.

Does this mean that the EU would become more likely to open to Turkey? Britain for one would be favourable, as it has no doubts about the geopolitical advantages of such option. Maybe France and Germany will be less opposed in the near future.

This doesn’t mean however that Turkey wouldn’t need to make deep transformations and recognise Cyprus. But let’s assume that for the sake of EU membership Turkey would take those steps.

Then it’s hard to imagine that Turkey would be denied EU membership. For those for whom the arrival of a large Muslim country would be too bitter to swallow, maybe Turkey’s membership would be made to coincide with Christian Ukraine joining as well.

What looked absurd yesterday is not impossible today. As they say, crises always offer opportunities.

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  1. Dear friends,
    I adore this positive article
    (our European Crisis is not a crisis of religions )
    I like this paragraph
    “Then it’s hard to imagine that Turkey would be denied EU membership. For those for whom the arrival of a large Muslim country would be too bitter to swallow, maybe Turkey’s membership would be made to coincide with Christian Ukraine joining as well”
    I wish you a nice weekend

  2. Non-starter, I am afraid as it sounds like first class, second class membership. As for Turkey, only first class membership would be meaningful.
    As for Europe itself, there are deep governance issues in the EU. In particular, unless veto powers in decisionmaking are eliminated, whether it is EU28 or EU17, European integration/unity would remain a pipedream: the current debt crisis and deflation would prevent transition to growth economics. GROWTH is what Europe needs desperately! Turkish membership would energize the growth process.

  3. Hello Georgi,

    to start with the Turkish economy is so interlinked to the EU economy that if/when Turkey becomes an EU member it will be able to integrate the eurozone immediately.

    But will Turkey accept to join the common currency?

    Also Turkey meets the Maastricht criterions whereas several EU members don’t. An example:

    I quote:

    According to the EU Commission data, Turkey’s gross government debt to GDP ratio stands at 43 percent, whereas EU average in gross government debt to GDP ratio reaches as high as 79 percent.

    The government debt to GDP ratio which shouldn’t exceed 60 % according to the Maastricht economic criteria are 140.2 percent in Greece, 118.9 percent in Italy, 98.6 percent in Belgium, 97.4 percent in Ireland, 83 percent in France and Portugal each, 77.8 percent in Britain and 75.7 percent in Germany.

    I wish I suggested this former article of mine too:

    Secondly, regarding the Cypriot issue the Turkish leaders stated several times that Turkey will recognise Cyprus as soon as an enduring solution is found between the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides.

    Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot sides have been supporting the reunification of Cyprus and they proved that in 2004 since they succeeded in convincing the Turkish Cypriot citizens to vote “Yes” to the EU-UN Annan plan.

    Besides, Turkey underlined a few times that it will implement the additional protocol to the Ankara agreement as soon as the EU stands to its commitment of April 2004. In other words, as soon as the EU lift the embargoes towards the Turkish Cypriots.
    The EU promised the direct trade with the Turkish Cypriots but the Turkish Cypriots are still isolated.

    I’d like to suggest what Emma Bonino said recently about Cyprus:

    Thus the EU knows what to do to unblock the EU-Turkey negotiations. Stefan Füle (who has been in Turkey for two days) is honest but he has the hands tied.

    Lastly, I agree that for many EU citizens Tukey’s EU membership looks absurd (owing to a great lack of knowledge about that complex country).

    However, politically Turkey’s EU membership has never looked absurd (or at least it shouldn’t have) because Turkey’s EU membeship is legitimate:

    let’s recall the signatures of the EEC/EU of 1963, 1999 and 2004:

    – the Ankara Agreement that foresaw Turkey’s integration to the bloc,

    – Turkey’s official candidate status at Helsinki,

    – and the decision to open the EU-Turkey negotiations.

    To conclude, Turkey has always been a European country, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bidlt stated that a few weeks ago. Well Turkey has become economically and democratically stronger than ever but today it is its European identity that is called into question. What a strange timing.

    Your sincerely,


  4. Thanks for your valuable views. To Anna, yes, I wanted to be positive and optimistic. To Ozay, EU membership anyway comes before eurozone membership, so I see no problem. To Cem, who basically says that if Europe is changing, those opposing Turkish membership havent’t, I guess he has a point.
    Regards to all, Georgi

  5. I found this interesting comment in my email box:

    Hello Gorgi, Cem,

    Cem’s careful analysis make a lot of common sense…unfortunately common sense is what has consistently been missing in EU discussions of Turkish membership.

    At the moment, with dark clouds surrounding EU over the euro/debt crisis, the future looks bleak… so bleak I wonder if the majority of Turks would accept membership if it were suddenly offerred to Ankara. My own sense is that like Norway, they would politely turn it down.

    It so happens I am now re-reading Ataturk’s celebrated SPEECH (I recemmond it to anyone who wants to learn how the Turkish Republic was created under the most unimaginable set of difficulties). I doubt that Turks would now entrust Turkish sovereignty to a bunch of Euro-crats in Brussels and EU political leaders operating under the existing impossible rules of governance, specifically the veto right of each member. This is a recipe for DO-NOTHING. How on earth can one harmonize fiscal, monetary and investment policies under these rules of governance?

    Briefly (and looking back), look at some of the relevant EU Council/Commission blunders:

    * Greece has been admitted into E15 while technically it was judged NOT READY;
    * It was admitted into the Eurozone on the basis of “doctored” books and statistical lies,
    * Divided Cyprus was admitted similarly on GC terms, i.e. by blackmail.
    * GCs were rewarded for saying NO to Annan Plan, TCs punished for YES
    * EU leaders, first worked so hard for the Annan Plan, then reneged on promises/pledged made to TCs
    * Yet, EU keeps on insisting concessions after concession from the Turkish side {in the name of REFORM recalling the 19th century Eastern Question a la Gladstone} to further appease the Greeks, etc.

    Under the circumstances, one has to ask what is the net benefit to Turkey of EU membership? Why join a sinking ship?

    Especially, when Turkish economy is robust, monetary and fiscal policy management is exemplary, and Turkish entrepreneurs are winning contracts and markets everywhere. By contrast Europe is bogged down in archaic and dysfunctional subsidy programs, labor union laws and uncomptetive Euro.

    Where are growth prospects in debt-ridden PIGS? How long can Germany bail out the PIGS who are, each one, a permanent East Germany?

    Now, the great French leader looks to China for help. Why should China purchase Eurobonds when ECB is reluctant to do so?

    Yet, I want to end on a positive note: Europe needs GROWTH economics, even if risking inflation. Keynesian prescription (a la FDR-style of the 1930s) is the way forward. Under monetarism/rational expectations paradigm, one has to ask: why rely on bankers and auditors to determine “expectations” when they suffer from deep moral failure? It is time to listen to the OCCUPY voices and bail out the unemployed, rather than the banks!

    As regards EU-Turkey relations, frankly EU should court Turkey, using maximum persuasion and incentives for membership just to energize itself and become a credible player on the world stage, especially vis-a-vis the Muslim world.


    Ozay Mehmet, Ph.D (Toronto),
    Professor Emeritus, Int. Aff/Econ., Carleton University,
    Ottawa, Ont., CANADA

  6. it is an oversimplification to present the issue around cyprus as “turkey not recognizing cyprus”.
    this is unfortunate and, intentionally or unintentionally, misleading.
    good that it was responded by comments. it has to be tirelessly reminded to people, what the issue is about.

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