For Turkey and the EU, Partnership May Be Better Than Membership

Apr 4, 2018 | 09:00 GMT

The flags of Turkey and the European Union fly over Istanbul.

Turkey is still in talks to join the European Union, but it won't become a member anytime soon. Even at the start of the accession process, Brussels' enthusiasm for including the country was insincere at best.

(CHRIS McGRATH/Getty Images)


  • Although it has been in the process of becoming an EU member since 2005, Turkey's chances of joining the bloc are lower today than ever before.
  • Each side in the negotiations, however, has too much at stake in the accession proceedings to give up on them entirely.
  • Unless Ankara and Brussels can set aside some of their differences in the pursuit of their mutual interests, their relationship will remain purely transactional.

Turkey won't be joining the European Union anytime soon. Although it has been in the process of becoming a member since 2005, its odds of accession are lower today than ever before. Neither side is willing to pull the plug on the endeavor. Were the European Commission to halt the process, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would declare it a Christian club of racists who never intended to admit a Muslim country to the Continental bloc. Erdogan himself, meanwhile, is reluctant to subject Turkey to the grave economic consequences that summarily ending its accession would cause. And because Turkey and the European Union depend on their relationship, cooler heads necessarily must prevail to preserve their partnership....

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