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EU and Turkey urged to strike a deal on ‘modernized’ Customs Union

Photo by Aris Setya

The EU and Turkey trade relations need to be restructured. This was the conclusion of a high-ranking business delegation that visited Brussels this week.

The review should include a wide range of topics, including services, agriculture, e-commerce, state aid, dispute settlements, and public procurement.

Given that talks began in 2014, the urgency of modernization has never been greater. According to business leaders, little progress has been made since then.

The General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR), digital trade, and the Green Deal are not currently part of the Customs Union Upgrade Agenda. However, each should be considered, it was stated.


Business leaders from Turkey and EU countries spoke at a press conference on Tuesday about the potential economic benefits for both sides of a review.

According to the European Commission, an estimated gain of EUR5.4 billion for the EU, or 0.01 percent of its GDP, is possible.

This visit consisted of a d


To bring together


European Chambers of Commerce presented a major report about improving trade relations between Turkey and the EU. They later met with senior EU officials as well as members of civil society. The presidents of the Turkish Bilateral European Chambers for Commerce and Industry were among those who took part.


The visit’s ultimate purpose is to highlight the economic benefits of further cooperation between Turkey, the EU and other countries.

Dr Markus Slevogt (president of the German-Turkish Chamber of Industry & Commerce) was one of the key speakers at the briefing. He said that modernization of the existing Turkey-EU Customs Union could be a catalyst for a stronger relationship between the EU and Turkey.

He believes it would also increase Turkey’s integration into global value chains, thus “enriching both sides’ economic well-being.”

He stated that the current agreements are “outdated” and needed to be modernized and reform.

Recent agreements between Turkey and the EU indicated that both countries believe their Customs Union, which played a crucial role in improving their relations, needs to be modernized. The European business sector faces enormous challenges in the wake of recent global events.



Representatives spoke out about the immediate economic consequences of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, recovery from shutdowns resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, and continued geopolitical threats from China.

European companies and their representatives need to be aware of market trends and legislation, especially in the areas of big data, e-commerce boom, remote workers, and greener, more sustainable manufacturing. There are many.


new momentum in



The European business sector is in constant transformation, using innovative practices, greater digitalization, and innovative and best practices. According to briefing, it was revealed that the EU, national governments and international organisations, as well as decision-makers, are seeking ways to facilitate and increase trade flows between countries in order to strengthen supply chains and meet ambitious sustainability goals. These “mega” trade flows are essential to achieving ambitious sustainability goals.

Trends” Businesses in the EU are encouraged to use the opportunities in Turkey to promote their businesses, particularly in relation to modernization of the EU-Turkey Customs Union Agreement.

Dr. Slevogt stated that German companies were established in Turkey 160 years ago. They have survived Ottoman Sultans, two World Wars and an economic crisis. He said that they survived because the country’s economy is growing by 4.5% each year.

“The current picture should be wider because Europe is increasingly wedged between the US, Asia, Russia and China. Turkey has a strong geopolitical position and Europe must foster relations with other countries further east.

“We believe this country is significantly undervalued, but it can still be valued.

“Europe was the most bloody battlefield the world had ever seen for centuries. The EU was established to preserve peace, and it is based on trade. My father said to me that peace in Europe is the most important thing because it is rare. The last extended period of peace in Europe occurred 2,000 years ago. Peace now encompasses trade relations between the EU and the USA and China. Do we need to include Turkey in this idea?

He said, “From an economically-oriented standpoint, investors and everyone who wants a bright future in Europe should consider Turkey. Although the Customs Union was a 4 cylinder diesel engine, trade has increased by more than 400% since then.

“Substantial foreign investment has come to Turkey more than ever before, and geostrategic requirements show that the value chain around Asian countries (e.g. Vietnam or China) needs to be closer to Europe.”

He stated that Germany’s trade with Turkey was worth approximately EUR41 billion in 2021. This makes Turkey Germany’s largest trading partner.

“But there are so much tariff barriers left and right under the CU that the engine is not up to speed for current trade levels between Turkey, the EU and Turkey. The internet was not available when the CU was introduced, but we now have e-commerce and customs.

He said that Turkey could be an alternative to Russia and Ukraine when it comes to agricultural products. There is an inverted correlation between conflict and war, investment and trade and both. Trade is more important than war.

Livio Manzini (president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul) also addressed the briefing. He said: “The Italy-Turkey Chamber of Commerce was established over 137 years ago. Through good and bad times, it has continued to grow. It has remained strong and has grown stronger.”

Veronique Johanna Marie van Haaften was also a member of the six strong delegation.

She stated that all institutions in the country work together towards the same goal, which is to strengthen diplomatic relations between Turkey (EU) and Turkey. We all work together to promote trade and facilitate networking. We hope this visit will provide a solid foundation for future dialogue.”

Dr. Slevogt told the audience in a Q&A session that Turkey is undervalued. Anyone who wants to profit from this asset should get started early.

Franck Mereyde is the president of the French Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul. He said that assets from China and the US take 2 to 3 months, and Turkey could be a closer supplier.

He said that this benefit is highlighted in the context of how Europe was affected by the pandemic.

He pointed out that 35 of the 40 French companies have business in Turkey.

Manzini stated that Turkey has never defaulted since its creation, “so it has been a reliable partner.”

It has participated in all NATO meetings and “so not just proven itself financially reliable but also strategic.”

He said that geostrategic terms meant that “a lot have changed in the last few years.” One is the pandemic, and the other is the desire to decouple from China.

Manzini said that Turkey has maintained higher standards than other nations.

The session was informed that it would not be possible for a new CU to be established without Cyprus signing it. This could mean that this could never happen.

According to some, this was because the joint chambers were lobbying with “all that we have” just before the pandemic and had talked with Angela Merkel, former German chancellor, about the importance of the CU.

Dr. Slevogt stated that they are working hard to address this topic. All companies are represented in Berlin, and they lobby, but sometimes the problem is deeper than EU bureaucrats want to admit.

Manzini stated that the EU wanted Turkey to recognize Cyprus as a trading partner on the “unresolved Cyprus issue”.

He said, “But the EU lacks dialogue and leverage.” The EU could regain some control over Turkey if there were a dialogue. The CU is a great tool for that dialogue. We all know that we won’t start talking until we have resolved other issues. The EU may have some leverage over other issues, such as the rule of law or Cyprus. It is a positive result if both sides receive 70% of their desired results.

Mereyde added: “Improving CU isn’t a tool for EU adherence. Our goal is to improve business. Business is more than money. It is about people. A better CU means more people will work for the EU and Turkish companies. These companies must share the same values with Turkey and the EU. This is a delicate balance. We are not here to join the EU, but for the CU. The CU will foster a greater understanding between Turkey and the EU.

Participants were also asked about the impact of religion on Turkey’s economy.

Manzini stated that there are always fringe movements in every country. However, he didn’t consider Turkey to be a problem. It is a country with high levels of social advancement and social technology penetration. There are many colors in Turkey. Unfortunately, religion can hinder advancement in other countries. But I don’t think that it’s a problem here.

Dr. Slevogt stated that the CU was also an information exchange mechanism, which brings about change in the country. Trade is more beneficial than information exchange between countries.

When Dr. Slevogt was asked about the possibility of incorporating high-standard EU standards into an upgraded CU, he replied: Dr. Slevogt stated, “When looking at German investment, and it’s the same as with other countries, they are applying sustainability standards. These rules must be followed. All standards are applied by the companies. Spillover is what I believe is the best term to describe this when you enter certain production sites in Turkey. Digitalization is also a priority for foreign investors.

Nevzat Sremet, president, of the Belgian/Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Istanbul, said: “Turkey will step up to meet the standards of its investor with the cooperation of the EU. These are all challenges that Turkey can face, I believe.

The real prospects for the Turkey-EU Agenda, such as for the next year, were also discussed by speakers.

Manzini replied, “Nobody is standing still.” The UK’s first trade agreement with Turkey was signed right after Brexit. Not years, it took weeks to negotiate. We are missing the train. The US is taking it. The UK is taking. It is the EU that is missing the train.

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