Nugent, Neill. (2005) Turkey’s Membership Application: Implications for the EU. Jean Monnet/Robert Schuman Paper Series Vol. 5 No. 26 August 2005. [Working Paper]
[Introduction] Turkey applied for EU membership in 1987: that is, three years before Cyprus and Malta and between seven and nine years before applications were lodged by ten Central and Eastern European countries (CEECs). Yet, when all but two of the post-Turkey applicants became EU members in May 2004, membership negotiations not only had yet to be opened with Turkey but they had not even been definitely promised. For a number of reasons, the Turkish application has not been viewed by the EU in the same way as other applications. Rather, it has been seen as being especially and distinctively problematical. This has been partly because it has been thought Turkish membership will create a number of particular difficulties for the EU and partly because Turkey as a country has been regarded - much more so than have other EU applicant states - as being very ‘different’ from the EU ‘mainstream’. This paper focuses on the Turkish application, and more especially on its implications for the EU. The paper does not attempt to examine specific policy and institutional implications of Turkish membership in detail. Those who want such an examination should consult the European Commission’s October 2004 working document Issues Arising From Turkey’s Membership Perspective (European Commission 2004c). Rather, the paper seeks to explain how the EU’s position on the Turkish application has reached its current position and to provide an overview of the challenges the prospect of Turkish membership poses for the EU. A main conclusion of the paper is that although the Turkish application clearly does provide major challenges for the EU, both in terms of managing the accession process and then membership itself, there is every reason to suppose that it can be handled successfully. A key reason for taking this view is the changes that can be expected to occur in both Turkey and the EU in the years before accession takes place.
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