The economic impact of Turkey’s EU accession

To extend the Mediterranean convergence scenario imagined as part of the “Mediterranean 2030” programme, which involves converging norms and standards in the region, IPEMED launched a study on a concrete case: Turkey and the process of its accession into the European Union.

Since the 1960s and the creation of a customs union agreement between Turkey and the European Economic Community, involving standardizing commercial policy measures and moving some laws closer (e.g. on customs, intellectual property, competition and tax), and in the context of the current accession process (with reforms anticipated in 35 thematic areas), Turkey, drawn by the European dream, has made considerable reforms that have transformed the country and resulted in growth.

Ranging from political reforms to respond to the Copenhagen criteria, to reforms of its public administration and legal system, along with the liberalization of trade, Turkey has entered into a modernization process that has positioned it as a major actor in the region, an integral part of the global economy with its own solid industry.

IPEMED launched this study to understand the concrete impact of normative integration and the benefits of supranational regulations for a country’s economy, taking the example of Turkey, which is currently undergoing these transformations. It responds to the following questions:

-    What are the (positive and negative) economic impacts of this approach, which is cumbersome and expensive?
-    Are these transformations key factors of Turkish growth, or simply facilitators?
-    What can we learn from this experience and can the lessons be applied to other South and East Mediterranean Countries?

The study is based on two elements:
•    A concise overview of existing studies dealing with the issue,
•    A dozen interviews of major Turkish figures (key economic stakeholders, expert economists, regulation specialists, etc.).

The study answers the following questions:

- What are the economic (positive and negative) effects of this heavy and costly approach?
- Are these transformations key elements at the origin of the Turkish growth or are they rather facilitators?
- What lessons can we learn from this experience and are they applicable to Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries?

and is based on two elements:

- a short assessment of the exiting studies on this issue;
- and, especially, on about twelve interviews featuring great Turkish actors (key economic actors, experts - economists, regulation specialists, among others). 

One can draw the following conclusions from the Turkish experience but are they applicable to Southern and Eastern Mediterranean Countries? :

    - Turkey’s experience in the fabrication of reforms is unique.
    - The strong support of the Turkish private sector to the reforms agenda played an essential role in the transition.
    - The agreement on customs union was a milestone in Turkey’s integration to the UE and in its transformation towards a market economy. Following the same logic, the free-trade agreements signed with the EU can serve as an example for other countries since they improve the quality norms of their products and can therefore compete with European products.
    - The Turkish experience shows that supranational regulations can encourage a country to implement a series of reforms but only up to a certain point.
    - Reforms to establish quality standards and export high-quality products cannot be separated from reforms to institute macro-economic stability.
    - Economic and political reforms must go hand in hand.
    - The restoration of the rule of law, according to international standards, reinforces transparency, justice and integrity.

Economic actors:

- Tuǧrul Kutadgobilik: Chairman of TISK (Union of Employers’ Association of Turkey) and of MES (Turkish Employers’ Association of Metal Industries)
- Volkan Vural: Member of the board of directors of the TÜSIAD (Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association) and Chairman of the platform of international policies of the same association. Co-founder of the Institut du Bosphore and councillor of Doǧan Holding Chairman.
- Murat Kalsın: Vice president of the MÜSIAD (Independent Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association) and CEO of Arkon Construction Company.
- Ünal Kocaman: CEO of CMS Company.
- Erdoǧan Göǧen: CEO of ITC Invest Trading & Consulting AG.


- Ahmet Yücel: Deputy assistant secretary to the Minister for European Affairs
- Ekrem Kalkan: Head of economic analyses and research, Turkish Competition Authority.
- Ramazan Yıldırım: Deputy assistant secretary to the Minister of Science, Industry and Technology 


- Sübiday Togan: Professor of economics at Bilkent University.
- Nilgün Arısan Eralp: Head of European institutions and economic research at TEPAV
- Izak Atiyas: Professor of economics at Sabancı University and manager of TUSIAD-Sabanci University Competition Forum.



Associate expert