Handelsblatt auf Englisch 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.
  • Ruth Berschens and Christopher Cermak
Cecilia Malmström is the European Union's Trade Commissioner.
Cecilia Malmström

Cecilia Malmström is the European Union's Trade Commissioner.

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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