IKV, in cooperation with Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom organised a panel entitled “Future of the Turkey-EU Customs Union” in Brussels on 7 March 2017. The main theme of the panel was the upcoming negotiations regarding the modernisation of the Customs Union and the possible difficulties as well as opportunities which may exist in that respect. The opening remarks of the meeting were realised by Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the EU Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı and IKV Chairman Ayhan Zeytinoğlu. Turkey’s Permanent Representative to the EU Ambassador Faruk Kaymakçı stressed the importance not to politicise the negotiations on the modernisation of the Customs Union and also pinpointed the current asymmetric character of it. Furthermore, Kaymakçı indicated the need for the Customs Union to open up to new areas of mutual interest for the parties in terms of trade. As such, he alluded to the liberalisation of the transport quotas which is an issue of special interest for Turkey. As for IKV Chairman Ayhan Zeytinoğlu, he stressed that the business community is supportive of all initiatives regarding the modernisation of the Customs Union and underscored that this constitutes an indivisible part of Turkey’s EU accession perspective. Zeytinoğlu also noted that thanks to the launch of the accession negotiations, there has been since that time important benefits in terms of economic growth and investments.
Following the opening remarks, the panel started under the chairmanship of IKV Vice Chairman Prof. Halûk Kabaalioğlu and with the participation of Ministry of Economy EU Deputy General Director Mehmet Tan, European Commission DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) Representative Michele Villani, Ankara University ATAUM Director Prof. Sanem Baykal and IFO Institute Deputy Director Dr. Erdal Yalçın. During the panel, Ministry of Economy EU Deputy General Director Mehmet Tan shared Turkey’s priorities regarding the negotiations on the modernisation of the Customs Union as well as results of the impact analyses in that respect. As for European Commission DG for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Representative Michele Villani, he stressed the importance and the place of Turkey thanks to the Customs Union in the EU’s single market. Furthermore, he shared some figures published by the Commission regarding the opportunities and benefits that the modernisation of the Customs Union would result in if successfully completed. Villani also indicated that one of the most critical issues from the perspective of the EU would be the role that Turkey may have in a newly restructured Customs Union and how its place within the framework of the decision mechanisms in that respect. He highlighted the need to find a right balance in that area. As for Ankara University ATAUM Director Prof. Sanem Baykal, she indicated that further liberalisation in trade would be beneficial for both parties and IFO Institute Deputy Director Dr. Erdal Yalçın underscored that it is thanks to the Customs Union that the Turkish economy is still in a capacity to attract further investments within its realm.
Intervening during the meeting on behalf of TEPAV, G-20 Studies Director M. Sait Akman reminded that the current Customs Union should be discussed and tackled regarding the current structure of the global economy and trade in order to issue correct and sound assessments and impact analyses. Stressing that the negotiations on the modernisation of the Customs Union would be a difficult process for both Turkey and the EU within the perspective of global trends, Akman noted growing animosity against trade agreements with the European public opinion and he also underscored that the process is open to political effects in that respect.