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Turkey and the European Union: 2014 and Beyond

It seems likely that in 2013 Turkey and the EU will restart technical negotiations on one or more chapters. A real breakthrough, however, can only be expected in 2014, after the German elections and after the EU has regained the confidence that the current euro crisis can be overcome. Turkey for its part first needs to successfully conclude the fundamental reforms it has started on the Kurdish problem and in writing a new constitution. Revitalized accession negotiations after 2014 will be further complicated by the debate on a new EU architecture that should reflect the growing divergence between a further integrated euro zone and those member states that wish to keep their national currency. When and if the EU decides to reconfigure itself into an organization that operates with different speeds, Turkey will have a better chance of being accepted as a member.

Turkey and the European Union 2014 and Beyond
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (L) and Turkish Foreign Minister take their places for a press conference after the third Turkey-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue Meeting. AFP / Bülent Kılıç
 

after two years of growing frustration on the Turkish side with a total lack of progress in its EU accession negotiations and the sheer lack of interest on the part of key EU players, 2013 seems to be the year in which Turkey can at least make some modest steps forward again. After France announced it was willing to unblock one of the five chapters (regional policy) that were declared untouchable by then President Nicolas Sarkozy, the technical part of the accession process can be resumed.  The French decision is symbolically important for two reasons: It shows that, unlike his predecessor, President Francois Hollande is not a committed, ideologically inspired opponent of Turkish EU membership. Besides, restarting the official talks between Turkish and European bureaucrats on a new and quite challenging chapter will end, at least for the foreseeable future, the speculation that when faced with an ongoing impasse it was time to stop the entire project. 

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