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Rough Waters, Dark Shadows and Cross-Cutting Winds: The Impact of European Union Enlargement on Turkey's EU Accession Negotiations

David Phinnemore, Erhan Icener, Bursa Orhangazi University

For a multiplicity of socio-economic, geo-political, strategic and identity-based reasons, Turkey's progress towards EU membership is often treated as a sui generis case. Yet although Turkey's accession negotiations with the European Union (EU) are essentially a bilateral - and often stormy - affair, they take place within a wider and dynamic process of enlargement in which not only can the gloomy - sometimes dark - shadows of past and prospective enlargements be clearly detected, but so too can the often chill winds from ongoing, parallel negotiations with other candidates. How the EU negotiates accession and what it expects from candidates has continued to evolve since the EU began drawing up its framework for negotiations with Turkey ten years ago. This paper charts this evolution by first identifying changes in the light of Croatia's negotiating experience, the 'lessons learnt' by the EU in meeting the challenges of Bulgarian and Romanian accession, the EU's handling of Iceland's membership bid and accession negotiations, and the revised approach to negotiating accession evident in the more recent frameworks for accession negotiations with Montenegro and Serbia. The paper then explores the extent to which these changes have impacted on the approach the EU has adopted in framing and progressing accession negotiations with Turkey. In doing so, it questions both the consistency with which the EU's negotiates accession and the extent to which Turkey's progress towards EU membership is conditioned by the broader dynamics of EU enlargement as opposed to simply the dynamics within EU-Turkey relations and domestic Turkish reform efforts.

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