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 article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Is this time different? Reflections on recent emerging-market turbulence

Since the beginning of 2018, currencies of two large emerging-market economies – Argentina and Turkey – suffered from substantial depreciation. Other currencies also recorded losses. Which factors are determining macroeconomic and financial stability in emerging-market economies? And what can be done to prevent a crisis and avoid its economic, social and political costs?

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: November 14, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Director’s Cut: Options yet open for a Brexit deal

Robin Niblett, director of Chatham House institute, joins Bruegel deputy director Maria Demertzis for an assessment of what progress can be reasonably expected from the final months of the Brexit negotiations.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 7, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Post-Brexit transfers of personal data: The clock is ticking

The UK government would like to keep EU-UK data transfers largely the same following the country's separation from the EU. But talks have yet to even commence on a future data-sharing relationship, and a landmark European Court of Human Rights ruling in September bodes poorly for the UK's future status under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.

By: J. Scott Marcus Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: November 7, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

How could Europe benefit from the US-China trade war?

Under pressure from the US, Beijing is set to be more open to making new allies.

By: Guntram B. Wolff Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 18, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: The new balance of Asia-EU-US trade relations

Amid the Asia-Europe Economic Forum on the fringes of the 12th ASEM Summit, Bruegel senior fellow hosts a conversation on developing global trade relations, with guests Moonsung Kang, professor as Korea University, and Michael G. Plummer, director at SAIS Europe – Johns Hopkins University, for an episode of the Bruegel Backstage series on ‘The Sound of Economics’.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 17, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Renewing the clean energy strategy in the Mediterranean

In this episode of Deep Focus, Bruegel research fellow Simone Tagliapeitra explains how the nature of cross-Mediterranean energy relations needs to change, not only in line with new climate-change targets but also to meet the burgeoning energy demand outside Europe.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 16, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

Policy Brief

The Euro-Mediterranean energy relationship: a fresh perspective

The author analyses the current renewable energy development in Southern Mediterranean countries (SMCs) and proposes a climate financing strategy that retreats from the Eurocentric approach. Not only will it allow the region to meet its energy demand sustainably, it will also benefit the EU, both in economic and political terms.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 16, 2018
Read about event

Past Event

Past Event

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: Karim El Aynaoui, Marek Dabrowski, Uri Dadush, Ignacio Garcia Bercero, Ettore Greco, Giuseppe Grimaldi, Badr Ikken, Joanna Konings, Said Moufti, Pier Carlo Padoan, Lia Quartapelle, Visar Sala, Nicolò Russo Perez, Nicolò Sartori, Simone Tagliapietra and Guntram B. Wolff Location: LUISS Business School Viale Pola, 12, 00198 Roma RM, Italy Date: October 11, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Are economic and political freedoms interrelated?

Democracy has not always accompanied market economy. But in modern societies, economic and political freedoms are increasingly interconnected. Democracy and market economy can support each other. This is particularly true in post-communist economies of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Thus, authoritarian tendencies observed in these and other regions can negatively affect quality of economic policy and governance.

By: Marek Dabrowski Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 10, 2018
Read article More on this topic

Blog Post

Improving the efficiency and legitimacy of the EU: A bottom-up approach

The 2019 European elections promise to be a watershed moment for the EU. A recent Bruegel paper made the case for restructuring the Union’s model of governance and integration. The authors of this post critically assess this proposed institutional engineering, and argue for the principle of “an ever closer union” to be safeguarded by a bottom-up approach to respond to the common needs of the citizens.

By: Silvia Merler, Simone Tagliapietra and Alessio Terzi Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: October 9, 2018
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Backstage: Implications of the new EU-Japan trade deal

Bruegel senior fellow André Sapir welcomes Tamotsu Nakamura, dean of Kobe University’s Graduate School of Economics, and Maria Åsenius, head of cabinet to European trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström, for a discussion of the EU-Japan economic partnership in the context of heightening global trade tensions.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: October 4, 2018
Read article Download PDF More on this topic More by this author

External Publication

The impact of global decarbonisation policies and technological improvements on oil and gas producing countries in the Middle East and North Africa

Simone Tagliapietra contributed to the IEMED Mediterranean Yearbook 2018 with a chapter on the impact of decarbonisation policies on oil and gas producing countries in the MENA region.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: October 3, 2018
Load more posts