Turkey, EU to approve road map to update Customs Union

Turkey, EU to approve road map to update Customs Union

Turkey, EU to approve road map to update Customs Union

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Turkish Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci has said Turkey and the EU will sign a comprehensive memorandum of understanding on May 12 to update the Customs Union agreement. 

This agreement will actually be a road map for both sides to renew the Customs Union, but not a final document to upgrade it, according to sources. 

“I will be on my way to Belgium to ink a memorandum of understanding with the European Commission representatives, as we have come to terms on four items in favor of Turkey,” Zeybekci said, at a meeting in Istanbul on May 11.

“As the Turkish government, we clearly conveyed to the EU that the Customs Union agreement will be unsustainable if the agreement is not updated or the demands of the Turkish government are not satisfied. The negotiations have started since then,” he said.

According to Zeybekci, both the EU and Turkey have agreed on four items.

“First of all, Turkey will take part in any decision making mechanism. Second, Turkey will be automatically part of any free trade agreement signed between the EU and third countries,” said Zeybekçi. “The EU will remove all obstacles and tariffs that obstruct the free movement of Turkish goods in the EU market within the scope of the Customs Union agreement. And finally, the EU will include agriculture, the service sector and public procurement, which were excluded in 1996,” he added.

 “This will be the first step of the most comprehensive renewal of the agreement,” Zeybekci said.

In contrast to Zeybekçi’s statement, the two sides have only agreed to discuss the four topics that were mentioned by him, according to diplomatic sources.

Turkey and the European Commission will approve a report of the high level group that will provide a road map on how to update the customs union, sources told Hürriyet Daily News.

Also, rather than the automatic inclusion of Turkey in the free trade agreements signed between the EU and third parties, the two sides will try to reach an agreement which will enable Turkey to start simultaneous negotiations with third parties with whom the EU will start free trade agreement talks.

Following the approval of the report by the two sides, the European Union will conduct an impact assessment which is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. Following the outcome of the impact assessment report, the Commission will seek a mandate from member countries to start negotiating with Turkey, a process which might last until mid-2016. Only by then will negotiations to update the Customs Union between Turkey and the Commission begin.