Sedat Hasan KARACAOGLU, PhD Student, Turkey
Salih KAYA, PhD, Professor, Turkey
A Customs Union came into force on 31 December 1995. The Customs Union covers all industrial goods but does not address agriculture (except processed agricultural products), services or public procurement. Bilateral trade concessions are applied to agricultural products. In addition to providing for a common external tariff for the products covered, the Customs Union foresees that Turkey is to align to the acquis communautaire in several essential internal market areas, notably with regard to industrial standards. Following the Commission’s proposal on “extending and deepening” the Customs Union, in November 1996 the Council agreed to negotiating guidelines on the liberalisation of services and public procurement between the EU and Turkey. Negotiations were, however, suspended in 2002. The main characteristic of this very dense and complex relationship is the fact that it is handled through a multitude of different modes, forums, and procedures without much consistency among them. And the difficulties encountered in the EU accession process, which is currently stalled, have tended to poison the relationship in other domains. Now, facing a number of shared challenges, the two have a major opportunity to move their relationship to a higher level by working together to deal with short- and long-term issues that are of vital importance for both. As Europe’s political and economic weight declines and Turkey is consolidated as a regional power, cooperation on economic issues will be increasingly supplemented by cooperation in other areas in order to maintain a geopolitical balance in the region and limit the presence of external players.