The negotiation process without an end

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Turkish accession negotiations for European Union membership have officially started in 2005, though the process has not been finalized or prematurely ended yet. Instead, periods of intensive alignment through reforms and dialogue followed by periods of no progress at all can be observed. In this thesis, the Turkish accession negotiations were analyzed, so that the drivers of the process could be identified. These drivers are described in three different theories, in which either national interests of member states (rational choice, RC), the European Commission’s initiatives based on shared community values (sociological constructivism, SC) or the strategic use of norm-based arguments (rhetorical action, RA) create development in the process. Through a process-tracing analysis, the three time slots that showed the most activity between the EU and Turkey have been researched. It was found that SC and RA dominated the start and first phases of the accession process, but that RC explained the process from 2013 onwards. This shift to RC coincided with the refugee crisis in Europe, violent crackdowns of popular protests in Turkish cities and the 2016 coup d’état attempt. National interests of member states to reduce the numbers of illegal entries into EU territory increased the use of RC arguments in the negotiation process. SC arguments disappeared, as Turkey drifted away from the European community’s norms and values after the government’s response to the protests and the coup d’état and RA theory also lost its relevance throughout the process.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen