Turkey, Istanbul, Container harbour

The future of the EU's customs union with Turkey

Still a candidate for membership in the European Union, Turkey has outgrown the status of one-sided dependency on the EU. Ankara has developed a more independent foreign policy that entails both areas for cooperation with Brussels but also for conflicts with the EU and its member states. Cases in point are the cooperation on migration on the one side and tensions with Greece and Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean on the other. The EU needs working channels for communication and cooperation with Turkey. However, membership negations are stalled, talks on visa liberalization are stuck, and the European Council is blocking the opening of talks to re-negotiate the Customs Union. To look for ways to overcome the deadlock, CATS and think tanks from five EU member states are looking into the respective national debates on the economic and political pros and cons of renegotiating the Customs Union. We find an overall interest in the deepening of economic cooperation and a variety of political issues to be addressed once working relations with Turkey are established.

The reports written in the frame of this project are part of a joint endeavour in which the Centre for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS) cooperates with Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI), Paris; Elcano Royal Institute (Elcano), Madrid; The Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), Warsaw; Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), Rome; and Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), Athens.


Sinem Adar, Nicola Bilotta, Aurélien Denizeau, Sinan Ekim, Dorothée Schmid, Günter Seufert, Ilke Toygür, Karol Wasilewski

Customs Union: Old Instrument, New Function in EU-Turkey Relations

SWP Comment 2020/C 48, October 2020, 4 Pages


Turkey and Spain: bilateral relations and the road ahead for Customs Union modernisation

This paper analyses the bilateral relationship between Turkey and Spain, with a specific focus on the current state of economic relations. It aims to examine the Spanish position on the modernisation of the Customs Union (CU) agreement with Turkey.

in: realinstitutoelcano.org, 29.09.2020

Sinan Ekim, Nicola Bilotta

Italian-Turkish Economic Relations: An Overview

in: IAI Papers, issue 20|25, Rome, IAI, September 2020, 20 p.

Doruk Arbay

The Modernization of the European Union's Customs Union with Turkey

Turkey's Pro-Customs Union Rhetoric and Recent Approach of Turkish Political and Business Decision-Makers

Centre for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS), Working Paper Nr. 05, September 2020, 35 pages

Katarzyna Czupa

Poland and the EU–Turkey Customs Union

Centre for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS), Working Paper Nr. 04, July 2020, 23 pages

Aurélien Denizeau

France and the Modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union

in: Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri), 28.07.2020

Yaşar Aydın

Modernisation of the EU–Turkey Customs Union

The German Debate on Modernisation of the Customs Union Considering Economic Interests, Prospects of Cooperation and Political Obstacles

Centre for Applied Turkey Studies (CATS), Working Paper Nr. 03, July 2020, 32 pages

Panayotis Tsakonas, Athanasios Manis

Modernising the EU-Turkey Customs Union: The Greek Factor

ELIAMEP Policy Paper #35/2020, 26 pages