Case Law: Turkey and the European Union: The Path to Accession

9 Colum. J. Eur. L. 457 (2003)

David A. Kanarek. J.D. Candidate, 2004, Columbia University Law School; M.B.A., 2001, Rutgers Graduate School of Management; B.A. summa cum laude, 2000, Rutgers College.

Had the founding members of the European Community (EC) decided to remain a “rich man’s club,” they would not have had to concern themselves with the rest of Europe. Instead, the European Union (EU) has consciously pursued a strategy of community building and expansion. The Union is designed to confer both economic benefits and political stability on Member States. By inviting applications and accepting countries as accession partners, the EU started down the inevitable path of enlargement. The journey down that path has not always been easy, however. Turkey, in particular, has faced numerous obstacles to its avowed wish to become a member of the European Union.

This note will analyze the experience of Turkey in its quest to join the EU, from Turkey’s first application for membership in 1959 to the aftermath of the Turkish elections of November 3, 2002. This note will first describe the relationship between Turkey and the European continent in strategic, cultural, political, and economic terms. Second, this note will analyze the accession process, paying particular attention to Turkey’s application. Last, this note will conclude with an explanation of why-though the EU has been considering Turkish accession for over 40 years-accession has yet to occur and still seems far off.