EU Turkey report is a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach

Sanctions remained on the table

The anticipated report by EU High Representative Josep Borrell on the state of the European Union’s political, economic and trade relations with Turkey was finally made public on Monday and will be discussed by the “27” at the European Council Summit to be held by teleconference on March 25 and 26.

Borrell’s report again suggests adopting a ‘carrot-and-stick’ approach towards Ankara, by putting “a number of possible areas of cooperation on the table to allow for a progressive, proportionate and reversible approach”.

It provides some sticks in case Turkey does “not move forward constructively in developing a genuine partnership with the EU, but instead return to renewed unilateral actions or provocations.”

Those would involve “smart, scalable yet reversible restrictive measures, building on those in place” and could be expanded to include legal entities or “measures targetting other sectors important for the Turkish economy, such as a prohibition to supply of tourism services, negative travel advice by member states etc.”

Such sectoral sanctions would have to be agreed upon by all EU countries.

The measures are also meant to be reversible in order to “adapt to the situation and the level of threat or challenge in the best possible manner, incentivise a return to a cooperative track and avoid a negative escalation dynamic”, the report concludes.

Turkey has for decades disputed Greece’s rights in the Aegean Sea. The Turkish parliament declared 25 years ago that any extension of territorial waters from Greece’s side will be considered an act of war.

EU diplomats are not convinced there can be a positive breakthrough in the relations any time soon.

“Turkey’s actions have improved, but there is still lots to do,” a senior EU official told reporters last Thursday, adding that there is still a wide range of issues standing in their way.

Those mostly economic incentives would include “a modernisation and expansion of the scope of the current EU-Turkey Customs Union” and support in economic reforms as well as “increasing people-to-people contacts is a further confidence-building measure” such as the participation in the next generation of EU programmes Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe.

“The Commission remains ready to advise Turkey on the specifics of the outstanding benchmarks defined in the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap,” the report also suggests.

The report also states that migration could be part of a more positive agenda with Turkey, especially a “more effective and mutually beneficial implementation” of the existing 2016 EU-Turkey deal on migration.