The willingness of the EU and Turkey to share a common future dates back over 50 years. After its application in 1959, Turkey signed an association agreement with the European Economic Community in 1963 which explicitly envisaged membership. This reflects Turkey’s major strategic role since the EU’s formative early years.
The completion of the Customs Union in 1996 enhanced Turkey’s economic integration with the EU, while the acknowledgement of its candidate status in 1999 initiated a comprehensive reform process in the country. After the unanimous decision of EU member states that Turkey had sufficiently complied with the political criteria for membership, accession negotiations started in 2005. Since then, the political, economic and social transformation accelerated by the accession process is bringing Turkey closer to the EU every day.
Today, rapidly changing global dynamics and common interests make Turkey-EU integration increasingly critical and indispensable for both sides. The EU plays a key role in the modernization of Turkey. Turkey plays a key role in the achievement of EU goals of a more powerful, secure and stable future.


• Turkey is the 16th largest economy in the world and the 6th largest in Europe. As one of the top 10 emerging markets, it is also a member of G-20.

• TheGDPgrowthrateinthe2004-2008 period averaged 6,06%. According to the OECD, Turkey will have the third highest growth rate after China and India by 2017.

• The services, industrial and agricultural sectors account for 60%, 30% and 10% of the GDP respectively.

• Turkey’s modern industries rank it as Europe’s 1st maker of TVs, DVD players and buses; the 2nd biggest commercial vehicle and cement manufacturer, and the 3rd biggest producer of steel and ceramic tiles. In world rankings, the country is also the 1st producer of boron, 2nd of glass and 4th of large luxury yachts.

• Turkey’s manufacturing industry has a 93,4% share in its total exports. The country is among the world’s leading exporters in many sectors: it is the 1st cement and 2nd jewelry exporter in the world, as well as being the EU’s 2nd biggest supplier of textiles and clothing and 3rd largest source of motor vehicles.

• The EU is Turkey’s 1st trade partner; Turkey is the EU’s 7th. The EU’s share in Turkey’s exports and imports is 46% and 40.1% respectively.

• Turkey is the 7th most popular tourist destination in the world, while Istanbul, the “European Capital of Culture 2010”, is the 7th most visited city in the world.

• Foreign direct investment inflows to Turkey amounted to €10 billion in 2008, while Turkish direct investments in more than 50 countries amounted to €1.7 billion.

• Turkey’s accession will increase the size of the European internal market, as well as the competitiveness of the EU in the global economy.


• As the most eastern part of the West and the most western part of the East, Turkey enjoys a unique strategic position in its region for geographical, cultural and historical reasons. It is an active player and a credible mediator/facilitator in critical areas such as the Middle East, South Caucasus, Central Asia, the Black Sea basin, Mediterranean and the Balkans.

• Turkey is a unique country where a secular democracy has taken hold within a predominantly Muslim population. This particularity of Turkey underlines the compatibility of Islam and democratic values.

• As a country which is a member of Western and Islamic organizations at the same time, Turkey leads “The Alliance of Civilisations” initiative with Spain, under the auspices of the UN.

• Turkey’s EU strengthen the influence of the EU as a global actor; increase its credibility within the Muslim world by confirming that it is not an exclusive “Christian Club” but rather a union of democratic values, and send a powerful message to the world that the “Clash of Civilisations” can be avoided.


• With the second largest army in NATO after the US, Turkey has a crucial role in the success of the Common Security and Defence Policy of the EU. Turkey has proved its key position in this area by providing security assets to EU and international operations in many regions, from Congo to the Western Balkans, Afghanistan to Sudan.

• Being a pillar of stability and a hub of peace, Turkey contributes to conflict resolution in both its own neighbourhood and other critical regions such as the Middle East. It has also facilitated talks between, among others, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Russia and Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia.

• Turkey has significant potential to help the EU in the fight against international terrorism, illegal immigration, trafficking in drugs, arms, human beings, and criminal activities of all kinds.

• An EU including Turkey will be more successful in dealing with both external and internal threats jeopardizing Europe’s security.


• The territory of modern Turkey has been home to major civilisations throughout history. Hittites, Lydians, Lycians, Phrygians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks, Ottomans, as well as peoples from the Balkans, Caucasus, Black Sea and Central Asian regions, all form Turkey’s historical and cultural heritage.

• Since the 11th century Turks have been heirs to the rich Greco-Latin culture of the Roman and Byzantine Empires, as well as Judeo- Christian culture in Anatolia. Turkey is the birthplace of men and cities that are major symbols of European civilisation like Thales, Herodotus, Diogenes, Homer, Saint Nicholas, Saint Paul, Troy, Pergamon and Ephesus. Nicaea, the third “holy city” of the Christian world after Jerusalem and Vatican, is also in Turkey. The very name of Europe originates from the Phoenician princess “Europa”, meaning “where the sun sets” and referring to the lands of today’s Turkey.

• Various ethnic and religious communities have been living side by side for centuries on the territory of modern Turkey. Today, Turkey is still home to many different ethnicities and religions namely Kurds, Alevis, Assyrians, Arabs, Armenians, Circassians, Laz, Greeks, Roma, Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, making Turkish society a mosaic of diverse cultures.

• Turkey’s accession will enhance the multicultural nature of the EU and bring further meaning to its motto, “unity in diversity”.


• Turkey is an energy corridor between Europe, Central Asia and the Middle East. Over 70% of the crude oil and natural gas reserves of the world are located in Russia, the Caspian and Middle East regions surrounding Turkey.

• The EU’s current energy dependency rate exceeds 50% and is expected to reach 70% by 2030. As a part of big scale energy projects (Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan; Nabucco pipelines, etc.) already operating and in progress in its region, Turkey will significantly strengthen EU’s energy security by diversifying its energy supplies.

• Turkey is one of the richest countries of the world in renewable energy resources (5th in geothermal, 8th in hydroelectric). Turkey’s accession will considerably help the EU increase the share of renewable sources in its energy consumption.


• About half of Turkey’s total land area is devoted to agriculture (41 million hectares).

• Turkey is a leading world producer and net exporter of fruits and vegetables with a production level corresponding to 60% of that in the EU. It is also the major world producer of hazelnuts and a competitive producer of cereals, cotton, sugar, tobacco and olive oil. In terms of agricultural products, the EU is Turkey’s 1st trade partner and Turkey is the EU’s 5th supplier.

• Turkey is one of the foremost sources of plants cultivated for food in the world. 3 of the 8 gene centres and the 3rd biggest seed gene bank in the world are in Turkey.

• Turkey is one of the richest countries of the world in biodiversity, hosting 75% of all plant species in Europe. There are 12.400 plant species in Turkey, out of which 3.900 are endemic. These figures are 12.000 and 2.400 in Europe respectively.

• Anatolian fauna possess over 80.000 different animal species, while Europe as a whole holds around 60.000. Turkey has 3 distinct biogeographic regions and is part of a major flyway for millions of migratory birds. It has over 500 habitats. Natural old forests constitute 93% of the forests in Turkey, but only 1% in Europe.

• Turkey’s accession will double EU’s biodiversity and significantly contribute to Europe’s agricultural and environmental sustainability.


• Turkey has a young and dynamic population of over 72 million people with an average age of 28.8. This means 67% of the total population is of working age.

• With its active labour force of 24,7 million people, Turkey is the 4th largest labour market in Europe. Every year, 730.000 students graduate from high schools, one third of them from vocational and technical schools, and nearly 450.000 graduates from 143 universities join the labour market.

• The EU population currently has an average age of over 40 and is predicted to be much older, but only slightly larger in the future. About 30% of the population is expected to be over 65 by 2025. Life expectancy of Europeans rises while average fertility rate falls down. As a result, the EU will lose 48 million people of working age by 2050.

• Possessing the youngest population in Europe, with a good level of education, Turkey will contribute to labour markets and social welfare systems in the member states and increase the social dynamism of the EU.

Article is taken from the web site of Republic of Turkey-Prime Ministry Secretariat General for EU Affairs, 2011.