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Is it time to negotiate a complementary framework for Turkey-EU relations?

Dr. İlke Toygür

For years, Turkey and the European Union settled into a very fragile status quo. Even if the relationship proved itself more resilient than many expected, the current framework - Turkey being a candidate state for accession - does not lead to mutual trust and rules-based cooperation in all dimensions.

The need for a reframing is already underlined by many, not necessarily to substitute accession negotiations, but to complement it. However, the most important ingredient for a reframing is the political willon both sides. The lack of it has been contributing to the stalemate. Both sides try to use the remaining leverage(s) to get better treatment, while deepening mutual distrust.

The new institutional cycle could be taken as an opportunity to invest in a rules-based hybrid approach – keeping accession negotiations aside for brighter days in the future while trying to build a functioning complementary framework. To achieve this, three core institutions – the leadership of European Council, European Parliament and the Commission – should be involved in the debate in addition to member states. Institutions matter and their involvement in the process will decrease the politicization of the issue. This paper looks at EU institutions for the legislation that has just started, to judge whether the much-needed ground for re-railing the relationship can be found.