The European Union, Turkey and its wider neighbourhood: challenges and opportunities

Specific challenge

Since the outset of the European integration process in the aftermath of World War II, Turkey has been an important economic and political partner for the EU and a strategic military ally within NATO, forming a bridge into the Middle East and the Caucasus. Turkey is also a member of the G-20 group and ranks among the top 20 countries in the world regarding the size of the country, its population and the nominal GDP. The process of Turkey's integration with the EU has started in 1963 when it became an associate member following the Ankara Agreement. Turkey applied for EU membership already in 1987, but was officially recognised as a candidate country in 1999 and the official accession negotiations started in 2005. In 1995 a customs union agreement with the EU was signed.

Following the decades of close cooperation, Turkey is already well integrated with the European Union in particular in the socio-economic themes, including cooperation on research and innovation, and in cultural matters. In recent years however, due to the economic and financial crisis as well as continuing tensions in the Middle East and the South and East Mediterranean region, the challenges facing both Turkey and the EU have grown. In this context, the different options for further EU-Turkey cooperation in the next decade should be fully explored, taking into account the rising global importance of Turkey as an independent regional power.


Research should analyse the economic, social, political and geostrategic challenges and opportunities - for Turkey itself and for the EU - of further integration of Turkey with the EU, taking into account the different forms this collaboration could take as well as its historical, socio-economic and cultural dimensions. Different scenarios and their consequences should be analysed, from the point of view of the strategic interests of both the EU and Turkey. This should include both internal and external dimensions, public debates on EU-Turkey integration as well as the analysis of impacts on relations with other global powers and with other world regions, in particular the Middle East, the South and East Mediterranean, and the Caucasus. Research should also explore the potential consequences of a lack of progress in building stronger ties between Turkey and the EU. It should engage civil society and citizens.

Broad participation of partners from Turkey and its wider neighbourhood countries in proposals submitted to this call is strongly encouraged.

The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of between EUR 1.5 and 2.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected impact

Research is expected to advance theoretical and practical debates on the different scenarios, and their implications, of the potential further integration of Turkey with the EU and to provide the analysis of the challenges and opportunities associated with this process. It will make a critical assessment of the evolution of EU relations with Turkey in the last decades as well as how they were affected by the shifting global order and the rise of Turkey as a regional power. These activities will contribute to a better understanding of the challenges facing the EU neighbourhood and enlargement policies as well as will provide evidence base to support them.

Application date
Social sciences