OPINION

Impact assessment

The European Commission’s «impact assessment» of Turkey’s potential membership of the bloc notes that accession «would be challenging for both the EU and Turkey.» «If well managed, [Turkey’s membership] would offer important opportunities for both,» the EU study added. However, the diplomatic niceties and generalizations conceal a not-so-promising context. The report indeed mentions that EU member states’ economies would benefit from Turkey’s EU entry, «albeit only slightly.» Turkey, on the other hand, is expected to reap most of the rewards from membership, which is expected to put an annual 16 to 28 billion euros’ burden on the budget, which translates into between 0.1 and 0.17 percent of the Union’s GDP. These figures are only hypothetical, the report states. What is certain, on the other hand, is that Turkey is set to benefit substantially from its accession. Next to these predictions it should be noted that EU governments must take measures to stem a potential inflow of workers from Turkey. This is a likely prospect given that more than 3 million Turks currently live in Europe. The report contains no thorough assessment of the impact of Turkish membership on EU agriculture, despite the fact that Turkish farmland equal to 23 percent of the EU’s. (Still, the importance of agriculture to the Turkish economy exceeds the EU average.) It is indicative that EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler puts the cost of Turkey’s inclusion to the CAP at 11 billion euros per year. Notwithstanding the mild wording, the EU study is highly revealing of the costs of Turkish accession – most importantly, without taking into account the purely political and cultural concerns that weigh more than financial ones. Questions of cultural identity, religion and the political reality of an Atlanticist Ankara all weigh on minds in Europe. European worries are not limited to issues like the criminalization of adultery in this Muslim country. Even if the Commission is expected to give the green light to Ankara, the executive body’s report highlights a number of concerns, giving voice to those who claim that this is an extremely crucial issue that must not be dealt with in a hasty fashion. This does not imply that we are against Turkish membership. However, the EU must set its own political identity and economic viability as a priority instead of yielding to American pressure or calls against defining itself as a «Christian club.»