Enhancement of the EU-Turkey bilateral trade relations and the modernisation of the Customs Union

EESC opinion: Enhancement of the EU-Turkey bilateral trade relations and the modernisation of the Customs Union

Infopack REX/468

Composition of the Study Group

Administrator in charge David Hoić, Assistant Nadja Kačičnik


The EESC still considers that Turkey remains a very important partner and that the political will exists to increase levels of cooperation, but only provided that compliance with the fundamental European values and the principles of democracy, the rule of law and human rights is ensured.

The EESC believes that ongoing developments have rendered the current Customs Union (CU) agreement obsolete and that the parties to the agreement will have to start serious negotiations on strengthening their economic ties by establishing a new type of trade agreement that reflects current needs. The recent adjustments and best practices implemented in various trade agreements have transformed models for sustainability, transparency and the involvement of the social partners and civil society in international trade agreements.

The EESC proposes that the following areas be included in the regulatory framework of the new agreement:

  • agriculture (with all the requirements set out in the opinion)
  • services
  • public procurement
  • unprocessed products and raw materials
  • consumer protection
  • environmental protection and sustainable development
  • equivalence of regulatory regimes for veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and of food safety policy
  • effective protection of labour rights and decent jobs
  • protection of health and safety in the workplace
  • facilitation of e-commerce and introduction of a digital agenda that establishes free movement of digital data
  • energy policy and energy security
  • promotion of innovation and protection of intellectual property
  • combating corruption and money laundering
  • improved incentives for SMEs
  • simplified administrative procedures and reduced administrative costs
  • investment and updating of investment legislation with the aim of protecting investors, and concurrent introduction of an impartial dispute settlement procedure
  • improvement of the procedure for transposing and incorporating European legislation into the Turkish legal system
  • more robust provisions to ensure that the content of the revised agreement and the implementing provisions complies with the EU acquis.

The EESC believes that any type of trade agreement between the EU and Turkey will have to include effective consultation and inclusion of the social partners (employers and employees) and of civil society organisations at both the negotiating and implementation stages.