Turkey is known as a country that has a strategic location in the center of a wide region extending from the Balkans to the Caucasus, from Central Asia to the Middle East and from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea. Considering the developments in its immediate environment, it stands out as a factor of stability in political, economic and cultural terms. Rapidly approaching the West after World War II, a member of the West's fundamental institutions such as NATO, Turkey is making intensive efforts to be included in the EU project for nearly 60 years. With the Customs Union in 1996, the relations of EU-Turkey progressed, and Turkey has obtained candidate status in Helsinki. The full accession talks for Turkey's EU membership started in 2004 and noted progress in several areas and subjects, and it is known to provide significant benefits for both sides. Because Turkey, with its young population of 82 million is not only a huge market for the EU; it is also a dynamic force that will help the EU economy grow thanks to its highly qualified manpower. Recently, from Edirne to Kars transport project to be a logistic base for carrying out the investments, Turkey is able to provide advantageous position in the Middle East and Asian markets to EU companies.
Benefits of EU Membership at a Glance
Even though Turkey did not achieve success in long-term EU membership journey, its relations in the economic field seems to be very good. Today, Turkey is the EU's 5th largest and the EU is Turkey's largest trading partner, and, by 2018, 50 percent of Turkey's exports, which is about 84 billion dollars, and also 36 percent of imports, which is 80 billion dollars, are taking place with EU. 70 percent of foreign direct investment comes from EU member states. So far, there are some common developments in the EU member states after the accession process. First of all, as expected, exports to the EU are increasing, in the medium term the purchasing power of citizens grows by an average of 20 percent and the budget deficit is kept below 3 percent due to close monitoring by the union. In addition, positive developments are experienced in the issues such as human rights, judicial independence and the rule of law. In case of membership, Turkey is also expected to take a similar process. While negotiations between the EU and Turkey continue, with the criteria designated under the agreement reached in 2016, if the refugees are met by Turkey, EU is expected to provide visa liberalization, which it provides for 66 countries, to Turkey.
Today, the EU project promises more than 600 million inhabitants, promising more than the widely known right to free movement or a common currency. From individual to social life and from human rights to consumer habits, here are the opportunities Turkey will gain from the EU membership:
- Citizenship: Citizens of the Republic of Turkey will be EU citizens with the EU. They will be able to travel, study and work freely in the Member States. When Turkey's recent enforcement of the provision of $ 250 thousand real estate purchase to give citizenship application is considered, not just the people who obtained citizenship through real estate become Turkish citizens, they will also be EU citizens.
- The right to vote and be elected in EU member states: Citizens of the Republic of Turkey in EU countries won the right to vote on equal terms with the citizens of that country in local elections and European Parliament elections.
- Businessmen will be able to establish and provide services in the EU: EU membership provides the opportunity for businessmen to evaluate all activities in the EU market for a fee, not only for individuals, but also for the free movement of services, goods and capital. Thus, while achieving Turkey citizens’ right to work freely in EU countries, they will provide services that they do in Turkey, here in EU.
- The right to free movement of workers in EU countries: Since the citizens of the Member States are EU citizens, they have the right to apply for a job and work in any EU country. With the accession, Turkey citizen workers are also going to have legally this right.
- Opportunity for young people to receive equal education in EU countries: Upon accession, citizens of Turkey will have the right to get education on equal terms with other EU member states. For example, a Turkish youth who wants to study in Italy will be able to benefit from financial support and scholarship opportunities provided to Italian youth during their education. In the case of paid education, Turkish student will pay the same amount as an Italian student pays.
- Support for the development of young people: EU institutions want to strengthen solidarity and tolerance among young people, to ensure the active participation of young people in society, to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and to help them acquire knowledge, skills and competence. Within this scope, voluntary activities carried out in the public interest are supported, especially Erasmus. Thus, it helps young people of EU member states to establish cross-border partnerships and socialize.
- Consumers insurance options will increase: Member firms in the EU insurance sector can freely market their services in other countries, and consumers can receive services from insurance companies in any member state for insurance transactions. So, a company permission that is given to conduct insurance operations by Turkey is valid in all member countries. With the membership, Turkish companies will be able to offer insurance services freely in a huge market of approximately 600 million high purchasing power. Likewise, EU companies will be able to operate in the Turkish market.
- Field to table production and food safety: The biggest item of the EU budget is agricultural production incentives. If Turkey becomes a member, it will have the opportunity to benefit from the financial opportunities offered to farmers by the EU, which attaches great importance to rural development. However, the EU also sets standards for the environment; public, animal and phytosanitary; animal welfare and land management. Special support is given to young investors for the establishment of new facilities and the structural development of these facilities.
Turkey’s membership is expected to create opportunities not only for itself but also for EU. The importance of Turkey's membership in establishing an effective policy can be seen in many areas, particularly in foreign policy, energy supply security, young, skilled, dynamic workforce potential, illegal migration, the fight against organized crime and so on.