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

How should the relationship between competition policy and industrial policy evolve in the European Union?

Competition policy aims to ensure that market practices and strategies do not reduce consumer welfare. Industrial policy, meanwhile, aims at securing framework conditions that are favourable to industrial competitiveness, and deals with (sector-specific) production rules as well as the direction of public funds and tax measures. But, how should competition policy and industrial policy interact? Is industrial policy contradicting the aims of competition policy by promoting specific industrial interests?

By: Georgios Petropoulos Topic: Innovation & Competition Policy Date: July 15, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

The 4th industrial revolution: opportunities and challenges for Europe and China

What is the current status of EU-China relations concerning innovation, and what might their future look like?

Speakers: Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Chen Dongxiao, Patrick Child, Eric Cornuel, Maria Demertzis, Ding Yuan, Luigi Gambardella, Jiang Jianqing, Frank Kirchner, Pascal Lamy, Li Mingjun, Gwenn Sonck, Gerard Van Schaik, Reinhilde Veugelers, Wang Hongjian, Guntram B. Wolff, Xu Bin, Zhang Hongjun and Zhou Snow Topic: Global Economics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 12, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Podcast

Podcast

Deep Focus: Energy transition in the next EU institutional cycle

Bruegel fellow Simone Tagliapietra speaks to Sean Gibson in this instalment of 'The Sound of Economics', on the matter of the European energy transition and how the EU should proceed in the new institutional cycle.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 10, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Opinion

Faut-il s’endetter pour le climat?

Jean Pisani-Ferry, soutient qu’il ne faut pas s’interdire de financer une partie du coût de la transition écologique par l’endettement.

By: Jean Pisani-Ferry Topic: Energy & Climate Date: July 2, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

Where Brexit goes, the law shall follow

How the financial industry and the law firms that support it are preparing for what comes next

By: Rebecca Christie Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 25, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

How comprehensive is the EU political realignment?

Has the left-right divide become obsolete in EU politics?

Speakers: David Amiel, Otilia Dhand, Nicolas Véron and Silke Wettach Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 25, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

What reforms for Europe's Monetary Union: a view from Spain

How is a successful European Monetary Union still possible in today's ever-shifting political landscape? What reforms need to occur in order to guarantee success of cohesive policies?

Speakers: Fernando Fernández, José Carlos García de Quevedo, Gabriele Giudice, Inês Goncalves Raposo, Javier Méndez Llera and Isabel Riaño Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 19, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

External Publication

Soaring house prices in major cities: how to spot and moderate them

This article examines whether there are regional differences in house price growth within European countries and find a stronger cyclical pattern in capital cities compared to other regions, indicating a clear rationale for regional-level tools. The authors recommend using macro-prudential measures at a regional level, in particular loan-to-value and debt-to-income limits, to dampen the housing boom-bust cycle.

By: Grégory Claeys, Konstantinos Efstathiou and Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 19, 2019
Read article More on this topic More by this author

Blog Post

GNI-per-head rankings: The sad stories of Greece and Italy

No other country lost as many positions as Greece and Italy in the rankings of European countries by Gross National Income per head, between 1990 and 2017. The tentative conclusion here is that more complex, country-specific stories – beyond the euro, or the specific euro-area fiscal rules – are needed to explain these individual performances.

By: Francesco Papadia Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 18, 2019
Read article Download PDF More on this topic

Policy Brief

A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership

Memo to the presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. 'A strategic agenda for the new EU leadership' by Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram Wolff is the first of our 2019 Bruegel memos to the new presidents of the European Commission, Council and Parliament. Focusing on the most important economic questions at EU level, these Bruegel memos are intended to be a strategic to-do list, outlining the state of affairs that will greet the new Commission.

By: Maria Demertzis, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: June 13, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Past Event

Past Event

Past, present, and future EU trade policy: a conversation with Commissioner Malmström

What was trade policy during the last European Commission? What will be the future of European trade under the next Commission?

Speakers: Cecilia Malmström, André Sapir and Guntram B. Wolff Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: June 13, 2019
Read about event More on this topic

Upcoming Event

Oct
29
08:30

Bank resolution: its impact in the EU

Closed-door workshop on various aspects of bank resolution.

Speakers: Jon Cunliffe, Martin J. Gruenberg and Elke König Topic: Finance & Financial Regulation Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels
Load more posts