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E.U. Lobbies for Deeper Ties With Turkey

The European Union hopes to expand a two decade-old customs union with Turkey and even allow its eastern neighbor to join the U.S.-E.U. free-trade deal, according to a Commission proposal seen by Handelsblatt.

The European Union is lobbying to broaden economic ties with Turkey, a country seen critical to solving the current refugee crisis, in a step that could allow its eastern neighbor to participate in the looming U.S.-E.U. free trade deal, Handelsblatt has learned.

A new European Commission paper on trade policy for the coming years, seen by Handelsblatt, called for a “modernized customs union” that opens up areas like services, agriculture and public procurement to greater competition. The existing trade and investment partnership between the European Union and Turkey is “sub-optimal,” the paper said.

The support from Brussels comes at a key time in E.U.-Turkish relations, with Turkey demanding more economic aid to stop the wave of refugees that have been moving toward Europe’s borders. A preliminary deal to work together to solve the refugee crisis was reached when Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan visited Brussels last week.

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