by Alexandra Reinhild Berndt
In March 2016 the European Union made a deal with Turkey to stop the immense flow of refugees and to secure Europe’s external borders. In this article I would like to focus on the deal’s implications for Turkey, the EU and the relationship between both parties.
For Turkey, the deal offers several incentives. In terms of financial help, Turkey receives a six-billion-dollar aid package, from which 3,2 billion euro have already been transferred (Engel, 2020). The money flows into local humanitarian aid organizations and more than hundred projects (Engel, 2020). Furthermore, Turkey benefits from visa-liberalizations for Turkish citizens for the Schengen-Area and from a resumption of EU-membership negotiations (Heck and Hess, p. 45). Ankara thus profits financially as well as strategically from this deal. However, due to human rights violations and anti-democratic developments, “Turkey’s membership perspective is no longer tenable“ and Turkey is rather seen as a “major strategic ally“ (Saatçioğlu 2020, p.170).
In order to maintain the deal, the EU was forced to make normative concessions (Saatçioğlu 2020, p.169). The is EU largely dependent on Turkey’s compliance with the deal to protect EU external borders and prevent illegal immigration. Turkey’s bargaining power is thus unprecedented (Saatçioğlu 2020, p.175). In the last years, Turkey disregarded core democratic values and violated Human rights. However, the EU made significant normative and political concessions in order to manage the crisis. The deal is thus at the cost core democratic principles (Saatçioğlu 2020, p.177).
The relation between the EU and Turkey deteriorated significantly lately. The Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has the impression that Turkey is not sufficiently supported by the European Union and thus threatened the EU by opening its borders (Braun, et al., 2020). Moreover, he claims that the EU does not comply with the deal (Kirchner, 2020). In terms of the EU’s compliance, one can say that the European Union did not comply with all the agreements, but at least, the required money has been transferred (Kirchner, 2020). Therefore, Erdoğan actually cannot claim that the EU does not financially supports Turkey.
In conclusion, the European Union made not only financial, but also normative concessions in order to maintain the deal. Erdoğan’s claims that the EU does not comply with the agreements of the deal are only partly correct, but not in financial terms as the EU paid its agreed part.
Braun, S., Bullion, C. von, Fried, N., Herrmann, B., Szymanski, M., & Balser, M. (2020, March 3). Wie Berlin über die Lage an der griechisch-türkischen Grenze denkt. Retrieved from https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/fluechtlinge-erdogan-bundesregierung-1.4827988
Engel, G. (2020, March 5). EU-Türkei-Abkommen: Wer hat den Flüchtlingsdeal gebrochen? Retrieved from https://www.tagesschau.de/faktenfinder/eu-tuerkei-fluechtlingsabkommen-109.html
Heck, G., & Hess, S. (2017). Tracing the Effects of the EU-Turkey Deal. The Momentum of the Multi-layered Turkish Border Regime. Retrieved from https://movements-journal.org/issues/05.turkey/04.heck,hess–tracing-the-effects-of-the-eu-turkey-deal.html
Kirchner, T. (2020, March 6). Flüchtlinge: Tückischer Deal zwischen EU und Türkei. Retrieved from https://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/tuerkei-deal-eu-1.4829688
Saatçioğlu, B. (2020). The European Union’s refugee crisis and rising functionalism in EU-Turkey relations. Turkish Studies, 21(2), 169-187.