Blog Post

We need a broader, greener EU-Turkey energy partnership

Energy is a vital part of the EU’s increasingly strained relationship with Turkey. It’s also one of the areas where there is still a lot of potential to find positive synergies. However, the EU’s strategy is too focussed on oil and gas. We need a broader and more sustainable approach to EU-Turkey energy relations.

By: Date: October 19, 2017 Topic: Energy & Climate

The relationship between the European Union (EU) and Turkey has long been both tight and tortuous. Turkey has sought to become a full participant in the European project since 1987, and the EU-Turkey customs union of 1995 was a major step forward. However, bilateral relations have faced many difficulties: the dispute over Cyprus, episodes of economic and political turbulence in Turkey, and open opposition to Turkish EU membership from core EU countries such as Germany and France. More recently, the EU-Turkey relationship has deteriorated because of the Turkish government’s worrying behaviour in the wake of the failed 2016 coup.

Against this challenging backdrop, the EU can consider its energy and climate relationship with Turkey a relative success. Energy issues are an area where strong mutual interests prevail even during politically difficult times. This still holds true, but even here the approach might need a rethink.

Over the last decades, gas and electricity have been at the heart of EU-Turkey energy cooperation.

Over the last decades, gas and electricity have been at the heart of EU-Turkey energy cooperation. These sectors are highly visible and make for impressive announcements, but the impact in these areas is likely to prove limited in practise, given the small scope of regional gas transit and electricity trading. On the contrary, cooperation in other fields—such as renewables, energy efficiency, nuclear power and emissions trading—could bring real benefits for long-term energy, climate and environmental sustainability. It could even shore up the region’s shaky macroeconomic and geopolitical stability.

On renewables and energy efficiency, the EU could support Turkey by scaling-up the financial support it currently provides within the framework of its climate finance commitments. This would strengthen the case for investment in renewables and efficiency projects in Turkey, particularly as the cost of capital continues to represent a major barrier for these investments.

On nuclear energy, the EU can make a sensible contribution to the establishment of a nuclear energy sector in Turkey. This can notably be accomplished by integrating Turkey into the framework of Euratom. Such a move would support Turkey in its nuclear energy plans, and at the same time offer benefits for the EU, notably in terms of regional nuclear safety.

On carbon markets, the EU can offer institutional support to Turkey, as is already being done with other countries such as China.

Refocusing bilateral energy cooperation away from gas and electricity trading, towards renewable and nuclear energy, energy efficiency, and carbon markets, would be more impactful and strategic for both the EU and Turkey.

Refocusing bilateral energy cooperation away from gas and electricity trading, towards renewable and nuclear energy, energy efficiency, and carbon markets, would be more impactful and strategic for both the EU and Turkey. For the EU, it would provide an opportunity to put its aspirations to leadership in sustainable energy into practice, while opening up new commercial opportunities. For Turkey, it would enhance both climate and environmental performance, while reducing the energy import bill and energy dependency on Russia.

Above all, this change in priorities would help prevent Turkey’s rush into coal. As it stands, Turkey has put together the third largest coal power plant development programme in the world – after India and China.

Only by shifting these priorities can EU-Turkey energy cooperation take on a truly strategic role as part of the EU-Turkey relationship. It will be challenging, but energy still has the potential to be the bedrock of a positive relationship between the two powers.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint. Anyone is free to republish and/or quote this post without prior consent. Please provide a full reference, clearly stating Bruegel and the relevant author as the source, and include a prominent hyperlink to the original post.

View comments
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Perils and potential: China-US-EU trade relations

We are hosting a number of Chinese and EU experts to discuss trade relations between the three forces.

Speakers: Miguel Ceballos Barón, Alicia García-Herrero, Wei Jianguo, André Sapir, Herman Van Rompuy, Zhang Weiwei, Guntram B. Wolff, Zhou Xiaochuan, Zhang Yansheng and Ruan Zongze Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 17, 2018
Read about event

Upcoming Event

Oct
11-12
20:00

Policy responses for an EU-MENA shared future

In the third edition of the "Platform for Advanced & Emerging Economies Policy Dialogue" we will discuss trade flows and trade policy between Europe and MENA, integration of developing economies into global value chains, and regional energy relations.

Speakers: Mounssif Aderkaoui, Karim El Aynaoui, Marek Dabrowski, Uri Dadush, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Badr Ikken, Joanna Konings, Zahra Maafiri, Pier Carlo Padoan, Visar Sala, Nicolò Sartori, Nathalie Tocci, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Location: Rome
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

Electrification in sub-Saharan Africa: The role of international institutions

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra contributed to the new issue of the 'Oxford Energy Forum' with an article on the role of international and European financing institutions in fostering the electrification of Africa.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 11, 2018
Read article More on this topic

External Publication

Energy in Africa: Challenges and Opportunities

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra co-authored a new book on energy in Africa.

By: Manfred Hafner, Simone Tagliapietra and Lucia de Strasser Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

The Turkish Crisis

Financial markets have been very nervous about Turkey for the past few weeks. We review economists’ opinions about the economic, political and geopolitical risks and opportunities of this situation.

By: Silvia Merler Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: August 27, 2018
Read article More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director's Cut - The extent of Turkey's crisis

Bruegel director Guntram Wolff welcomes Brad Setser, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and Jean Pisani-Ferry, Mercator senior fellow at Bruegel, to discuss the deterioration of Turkey's economy.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance, Global Economics & Governance Date: August 24, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Contribution

The macroeconomic implications of healthcare

Health-care systems play a crucial role in supporting human health. They also have major macroeconomic implications, an aspect that is not always properly acknowledged. Using a standard method to measure efficiency, data envelopment analysis (DEA), the authors find significant differences between countries. This finding calls for policy responses.

By: Zsolt Darvas, Nicolas Moës, Yana Myachenkova and David Pichler Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: August 23, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

What should the EU do about the Turkish currency crisis?

The Turkish lira has been under significant pressure in recent weeks; in this blog post, the authors discuss the EU’s exposure to possible crisis in Turkey and how the EU should react.

By: Grégory Claeys and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: August 14, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Opinion

Integrity of official statistics under threat

Andreas Georgiou has unwittingly become an international icon for statistical integrity. His continuing politically-motivated persecution is highly damaging for Greece, and more broadly for the credibility and reputation of the euro area.

By: Edwin M. Truman and Nicolas Véron Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: August 10, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Is Europe America’s Friend or Foe?

Since Donald Trump took office as US president, a new cottage industry in rational theories of his seemingly irrational behavior has developed. On one issue, however, no amount of theorizing has made sense of Trump: his treatment of America's oldest and most reliable ally.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: July 30, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

EU income inequality decline: Views from an income shares perspective

Over the past decade, the income share of low earners has increased in the EU while that of top earners has slightly declined. Although the upward convergence of the impoverished central European population is impressive, the southern European poor have faced a major setback while the southern European rich have hardly suffered.

By: Zsolt Darvas Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 5, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Beyond Nord Stream 2: a look at Russia’s Turk Stream project

Since 2015, Nord Stream 2 has been at the centre of all European discussions concerning the EU-Russia relations. But as endless political discussions in Europe are being held on this pipeline project, the pipes of another similar Russian pipeline project – Turk Stream – are already being laid by Gazprom at the bottom of the Black Sea. This piece looks at these developments, analysing their strategic impacts on Europe.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 4, 2018
Load more posts