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EU-Turkey economic partnership: an assessment of the Customs Union

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Turkey is a candidate country to be part of the European Union (EU). First EU-Turkey relationship started in 1959 and concretized in 1963 with the Ankara Association Agreement, aiming at the establishment of a Customs Union (CU), set up in 1995.

In 1987, Turkey applied for becoming full member of what was at the time the European Economic Community. 10 years later, in 1997, it was considered eligible to join the EU. Effective negotiations for accession started nevertheless only in 2005 and, still in 2017, are hindered by the Turkish embargo against Cyprus ships, considered illegal by the international community, on one side; by the lack of respect of the Copenhagen political criteria (democracy and rule of law), especially after the attempted putsch of 2016 July 15.

This paper provides a detailed analysis of the CU agreement, signed on March 6, 1995 and entered into force on December 31 of the same year. Our target is to understand whether 21 years of validity of this agreement have been beneficial for the Turkish economy and, eventually to which extent, for the European development of a wider market.

After picturing the political environment in which the CU came into force, the paper focuses on the economic fundamentals evolution and on the reciprocal influence (trade, investments, currency). We examine also the rapid evolution of a State economy towards a market driven community, together with the opening to foreign investors, which have characterized the 20 years of CU.


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