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Kaleağası says EU has to overcome classical dilemma : widening or deepening

vendredi 18 janvier 2013

Photo : Bahadır Kaleağası, the international coordinator of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association and president of the Paris Bosporus Institute, spoke to Today’s Zaman on Turkey-EU relations. (Photo : Today’s Zaman, Mehmet Yaman)

2013 is unlikely to be miraculous for both Turkey and the European Union, but both sides have to overcome some challenges, this week’s guest for Monday Talk, has said, evaluating what the new year might hold for Turkey and the EU.

A long-time observer of Turkey-EU relations, Bahadır Kaleağası, the international coordinator of Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD) and president of the Paris Bosporus Institute, has said that even if the EU deals with fundamental questions regarding its fiscal problems, there ought to be time for acting on Turkey’s EU membership.

“The EU should become a better-functioning single market and political entity, while enlarging its global power by including new countries and regions like Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, the Balkans and the Black Sea,” he said.

However, even though Turkey opened accession talks with the EU in 2005, progress has been slow due to the Cyprus dispute as well as opposition to Turkey’s membership by some member countries, including France and Germany.

Answering our questions, Kaleağası elaborated on the issue.

In 2013, what do you expect for Europe ?

The future is naturally an uncharted territory. In modern economic history, long-term economic growth has never been a steady process. However, Europe’s actual problems are deeply structural. Therefore, we should be looking at Europe’s future for 2020-2025 and taking into account the main drivers of change, such as demographics, technological innovation, energy resources, climate change, institutional reform dynamics and the evolution of Western democracy. History teaches us that even the best political systems have the tendency to degenerate if they are unable to anticipate the interaction between internal and external forces of change. And change today is exponential and plotted on a logarithmic curve.

What kind of challenges lie ahead for the old continent in the face of its Euro debt crisis ?

Recently, many tangible steps have been taken by the EU to establish a better economic and monetary union. The Euro crisis is not an ordinary currency crisis. As a currency, the euro’s value did not collapse ; its role in international finance and trade has been preserved. Beyond the economic conjuncture, Europe is still a great producer in arts, technology and science and has globally well performing companies. The crisis is related to public policy management and fiscal discipline failures. Moreover, some EU countries cheated with regard to the rules. Another aspect of this is that significant parts of European society have been slow to shake up anachronistic working habits to generate the growth that spins off tax revenues. In addition, former colonies are now Europe’s competitors. Europe needs a more trans-national vision that can meet the challenges of the 21st century in the good European tradition of rational thinking and consequent action.

What is the main challenge here ? You’ve mentioned some old working habits.

A huge majority of the people are working from 9 to 5 and shops are open almost during the same period. The problem here is very obvious. The system should be protecting people, not stagnant vocations. Europe can manage to have flexible working hours as well as security, life-long learning and creativity for its citizens. That’s the way to keep the service and manufacturing sectors alive. No matter how many times EU ministers meet and discuss the crisis, if Brussels cannot manage to adapt a flex-security system and promote more people with knowledge and skills, it is bound to lose its global competitiveness.

‘EU needs renaissance of work culture’

Are there signs of change ?

There are positive developments, but no politician yet has had the courage to really lead the change. Somebody needs to say that this is not about right-left rhetoric or the winding up of the welfare state or EU’s submission to the unfair elements of global competition. This is about producing more services and new products. EU needs a “work culture renaissance.” If not, we will all fall in the same vortex. If the EU sinks, Turkey will have to struggle with its centrifugal waves as well.

When the EU deals with this type of fundamental debate, do you think there will be time for thinking and acting about Turkey’s EU membership ?

There ought to be. The EU has always had a classical dilemma : widening or deepening ? This time around this dilemma is determined by the 21st century’s new context marked essentially by the reemerging of the Asia-Pacific region — a very sophisticated process that combines politics, social issues and climate change, not only economic growth, but the issues of energy and technology involving nano-technology, telecommunications, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, clean energy and space technology. ... There are also global viruses — biological, digital, financial, terrorist and carbonic viruses. Europe has the political technology to combat all those, but it has to move with the world. Finally, in an expanding global order, Europe is shrinking demographically. Once more the EU has to manage widening and deepening simultaneously.

How ?

The EU should become a better-functioning single market and political entity, while enlarging its global power by including new countries and regions like Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, the Balkans and the Black Sea. … Of course, only when these countries meet the criteria for membership.

There is a debate about how the EU should meet its challenges. One debate is about a looser economic union and a tighter political union. Is this possible ?

Only innovative institutional engineering to adopt a progressive approach can break the vicious circle of "a globally competitive, wider Europe versus an institutionally efficient, deeper Eurozone.” I can see at least four major narrative concepts for the future of the EU.

‘Business as usual in EU, lose-lose-lose scenario for all’

What are they ?

One is Europa mercãtus. The single market, together with peace, has been the greatest achievement of the European integration process. It has to be enhanced and enlarged to new countries with all its components such as the Copenhagen political criteria, social policies, environmental protection and food security. … This is the only way to avoid a shrinking Europe in an expanding world. Another concept is a better-organized, good old Europe — Europa nostrum — a more homogenous, federal Europe with a limited group of countries joining the Eurozone. The third one is Europa progressio, which can combine the first two to better overcome the EU’s sclerosis — a core group in the Eurozone, plus a wider circle as the present EU itself. All countries will be full members of the wider EU and no second class or "à la carte" memberships will be envisaged. This Europe of differentiated integration is de facto happening right now, but it has to be better managed, more transparent and more analytical. There is also a fourth possibility : Europa etcetera — business as usual ; a Europe slowly fading away from the global scene — a lose-lose-lose scenario for all — for Europe, for Turkey and for the world.

You also advocate more involvement of Turkey in the EU’s policy-making. Would you elaborate on that idea ?

Take Norway, which recently had a report saying that it is wealthier than the average EU country, has rich natural resources and has a good commodities market, but they said that being excluded from the EU’s decision-making process creates an erosion of national sovereignty. This is the same for Turkey. Whether Turkey has a plan A — EU membership — or plan B — wait and see — or plan C or Z — never, no more Europe — this reality does not change ; Turkey is in the sphere of influence of European policies and decisions from international trade to climate change and from the fight against human trafficking to infrastructure networks. And in the eyes of third countries — from Tunisia to Kazakhstan and from China to Brazil — Turkey’s brand value is being a country that is both a prospective EU member with European standards and the rule of law as well as Eurasian flexibilities and dynamic entrepreneurship. This is Turkey’s soft power.

‘In G20, new axis emerging’

You travel from China and India to Brazil. Your most recent book is entitled “The Planet of G20. ”Would you tell us about your observations regarding what is happening in other parts of the world and your theories related to the new axis in the G20 ? The G20 is about two-thirds of the world population and almost 90 percent of the world economy. In statistical terms, what is good for the G20 should be good for the world ! However, this is a heterogeneous group of countries. If they manage to be a governing body of the world in the next 10 years — from finance to climate change — that could lead to a better global governance structure. In the G20, it is also possible to observe a new axis that I call the “New West” or an enlarged West as Brzezinski calls it. These are countries that are both democracies and market economies and open to gradual economic integration and regulatory harmonization amongst them. Still, the main pillar of the world economy is the Transatlantic Relationship between the EU and the United States. In 2013, talks for a more comprehensive economic partnership are expected to start between Washington and Brussels. The EU also has a free trade agreement with South Korea and is working on new agreements with India and Japan.

The developments in the Middle East — could those be the game changers ?

Absolutely. Turkey would naturally promote peace and prosperity in the area because it is in Turkey’s national interest. However, Turkey is influential in the Middle East, but it should not become a Middle Eastern actor. The challenge in 2013 for the Turkish government is to emphasize this difference in all its actions with regard to Middle Eastern problems. This would strengthen Ankara’s credibility and power in solving problems in Syria, Iraq and in Palestine and promoting democracy in that part of the planet. The success of Turkey in acting in the Middle East without becoming “Middle Eastern” would have important implications for Turkey’s international economic interests in relation to foreign direct investments, exports and tourism. Turkey is a future member of the EU, a country that is able to compete in the EU market and able to apply EU rules and standards, while it has a dynamic entrepreneurial society and influence in its neighborhood from the Balkans and the Black Sea to Central Asia and the Middle East.

‘EU needs regular progress report prepared by Turkey’

Turkey’s European Union Ministry has shared the first progress report that the country has ever prepared on its own. Minister Egemen Bağış said that the report was not prepared as a reaction to EU’s progress report, but to share Turkey’s determination. What is your comment ?

This is a good initiative to emphasize Turkey’s determination for EU membership. I hope that next year’s reports by both the European Commission and the Turkish government will converge in the eulogy of Turkey’s rise as a global best practice case of freedoms, rule of law, European standards, technological vision and human development. Moreover, Turkey ought to be more involved in the debate on Europe’s future. A yearly "regular report of EU progress" prepared by Turkey would be a good idea in this respect.

What would you say about the European Commission’s 2012 Turkey report that has been widely criticized in Turkey ?

The report might have some misjudgments and errors, but overall it’s a justified warning to Turkey. Turkey needs to be a country of all sorts of freedoms — individual, cultural, religious, ethnic and sexual. This is a matter of whether or not to be a competitive society in the world. In a pluralistic society, there will be always conflicts, but the country’s non-stop progress towards more democracy is important. In a country where you don’t have oil, gas, nuclear arms or great financial capacity, power stems from its human capital. This is possible only by promoting more democracy, a non-dogmatic education and full liberties.

‘Europe’s Turkey vision quite blurred’

As Turkey has been debating many core issues inside, how does it look from Europe these days ?

Europe’s vision of Turkey is quite blurred now because of the EU’s internal problems. It is important to see how Turkey has evolved since the Customs Union decision of 1995. The EU process has played a very positive role. Overall, Turkey has made great progress, but it could have been better. Turkey’s added-value to Europe and to the global order will be better realized the day when we will be reading or hearing impressive media headlines on Turkey such as : “Turkey adopts by a large popular compromise, the most freedom-oriented and innovative constitution in the history of democracy,” “An important piece of the new electric engine is produced in Turkey,” “No more abandoned children in the streets of Turkish cities,” “İstanbul, the global role model of an ecological megapolis,” “Gender equality jump in Turkey triggers democracy in the Middle East and Asia” and “The EU celebrates its global soft power on the occasion of completing the accession process with Turkey.”


Dr. Bahadır Kaleağası

Kaleağası currently acts as the international coordinator of the Turkish Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (TÜSİAD), the president of the Paris Bosporus Institute, an executive board member of TÜSİAD-international, and the TÜSİAD representative to the EU and BUSINESSEUROPE in Brussels. A graduate of Brussels and İstanbul universities, he worked as researcher and lecturer at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Institute of European Studies (IES) of the University of Brussels, projects of the European Commission’s Forward Studies Unit and was a visiting academic at Harvard, Georgetown and Jerusalem universities. He was awarded the EU’s Jean Monnet and NATO research fellowships. Among his books are “From Single Market to Monetary Union,” “The Roadmap to Europe,” “European Galaxy and the Turkish Star,” “Future of Europe, Questions of the Youth” and “The Planet of G20.″ He is a commentator for the Turkish daily Radikal and the economic review Finans Dünyası and a counselor for several international projects.

Lien/Source : Today’s Zaman

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