Monday, September 25, 2006

Cold Feet?

I wanted to highlight this story from BBC which immediately caught my attention: "EU Chief urges enlargement pause".

I know migration is only a fraction of the issue, but I do believe that on some level, this is a nationalist response (weird considering that the EU is theoretically not a nation) -- and I don't necessarily fault the EU for it. As analysts who study globalization and other social phenomena like population aging, it is easy for us to take for granted that, sooner or later, Turkey will end up joining the EU because the Union was founded on priciples of integration and inclusion. We support our claims by saying that Turkey is the only nation which can help alleviate some of the burdens of the EU's rapidly aging population.

However, right now, it seems quite obvious that trends are heading in the opposite direction and that Turkey will probably end up aligning more closely with Russia and Iran than the EU. As I see it, and I hate to sound like a broken record, this is a part of the nationalistic response to (perceived) predatory globalization - both in Europe and in Turkey.

I would appreciate some insights and comments from people closer to Europe.

18 comments:

Meme chose said...

I believe that the only thing being left to EU diplomats at the moment is how to communicate to Turkey that it will never be an EU member.

It is possible that the EU's diplomats don't understand this, but if they don't then they are in for a sharp and humiliating surprise.

Randy said...

The Norwegian example, of a country that's subject to the European Union but not a participant in EU affairs, looks like it's going to be quite common in the years and decades ahead.

That said, I don't see why Turkey can't be a peripheral state of the European Union and an associate of Russia and Iran. Franco's Spain and Tito's Yugoslavia--not to mention Honecker's East Germany--were able to position themselves on the fringes of a much weaker Europe in the past

oldciver said...

Are we talking economic integration, political integration or political alignment?

I doubt very much that Turkey would seek economic or political integration with Russia or Iran. They can live outside of any economically integrated block, and develop bilateral free trade agreements with the EU, the US, Russia, and a variety of ME neighbors, while supporting WTO. Politically they can remain independent. In terms of alignment, while they may well want to improve their relations with Russia, the relations with Iran dont seem to be all that warm. Theyre more likely to align with the secular Sunni states in the region - Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, etc. They continue to maintain reasonably good relations with Israel, and once they are assured Iraqi Kurdistan isnt going to be a base for the PKK, theres reason to think that their relations with the US can recover.

ramki830 said...

I am not sure if it is correct in assuming that Turkey can significantly alleviate the ills of an ageing EU ; any numerical data that backs this idea would be welcome.

And i believe that except for Turkey's relatively Youthful population that EU nations do not see much value addition in letting Turkey into their club, and looks like a one sided situation where Turkey wants to get in while EU is not very happy to let it in..

Edward said...

"I would appreciate some insights and comments from people closer to Europe."

OK Nandan, then here we go. I'll do my best.

"EU Chief urges enlargement pause".

Now the first thing to note about this is that you need to contextualise it in relation to the Constitution issue.

Barroso isn't saying enlargement is over, but that enlargement is over until the Constitution is sorted.

Turkey isn't directly affected by this, since Turkey was never going to enter before 2014 at the earliest. So the main casualty here is Croatia.

It is very hard to read the tealeaves about all this, since, as we are commenting over at Afoe, Eastern Europe may take a real bashing (with the possible exception of the Czech Republic) during the next recession. Now if this happens enthusiasm for taking more Eastern European members may cool rather.

But there is a problem since politically you just can't leave them to rot. We are talking here, apart from Croatia, about Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and (probably) Ukraine.

Next it is important to separate the euro from the EU. Remember that a majority of the EU are not in the euro (only 12 out of 25 are in), and I would be surprised if any of the new members (apart from Slovenia) will be joining soon. Bernanke calls the euro an interesting experiment, and I would just leave it at that there.

But the EU is primarily a *political project*, and we should never forget that. It was born of war and to avoid war. So I think in this context (and in the context of what is happening to Russia, to which I will return) the EU has to do something for these countries. So that means that accession will be on the agenda again. Apart from anything else it is very hard to justify letting - say - Romania in, while permanently denying membership to Croatia and the others. What would be the justification for such a position?

Also I think you may be in danger of 'ball watching' here. What may have been the objective of Barroso's speech? To let Bulgaria and Romania pass through the door without too much fuss, that's what the most likely objective was. To avoid controversy about this decision.

So my guess is that the next move then would be to introduce the Constitution, but by the back door. I don't think there will be any more referendum. My guess is that they will work within the terms of the Nice agreement, and break the thing down into manageable parts, one bit at a time. This is what has been being argued from some people at Brussels for some time now.

Is this 'undemocratic', maybe, but then look at what we have been talking about in the Indian context, there isn't really that much difference really. Of course there will be votes in parliament, but without the need for a referendum.

So after this is done accession will be back on the agenda, and if Croatia is to be accepted it will be politically impossible not to accept Turkey, as long as Turkey makes the reforms which are demanded, and I imagine she will do.

So I do see Turkey in the EU around 2014/2015. Of course there are things which can cut across all this, and they are the kinds of things we are talking about here, like if there were to be a major economic crisis which lead to the breakup of the eurozone (starting, say, in Italy).

Another factor is the one which Oldciver highlights:

"and once they are assured Iraqi Kurdistan isnt going to be a base for the PKK"

The thing is, if the Iraqi Kurdistan effectively becomes an independent state, then anything can happen. Basically, so long as the US keeps 140,000 troops in the Sunni part of Iraq there won't be a civil war, but just how long will that be? One decade, two? So Kurdistan is definitely a wild card.

"I know migration is only a fraction of the issue"

I know Turkish migration is seen by many to be an issue, but this is simply based on ignorance. Out-migration from Turkey is more or less done, and Turkey is now mainly a migrant receiving country, as they explain in this article which is now 3 years old.

Which brings us to Russia. Basically the Goldman Sachs BRICS idea is wrong since it is based simply on size, and not on age structure and the demographic dividend. Basically Russia missed its demographic dividend and is now facing declining population with very low male life expectancy. Claus covered that here. But basically Turkey does belong to the BRICs and does have a rapidly growing and vibrant economy, which one day could be the the second or third biggest in the EU (or fourth, lets not quibble).

So here is one very good reason for having Turkey inside, to have another vibrant economy. I have some thoughts on Turkey over here, together with a lot of links to Cerhan Sevik's Morgan Stanley posts which are a must read in the Turkey context.

So this brings us to mother Russia and Iran, two countries which seem set to control a large part of the EUs energy requirements, and which both are well on the way to achieving 'rogue state' status. This brings us back to the politics, and why accession will take place, and why Turkey will be in, since it is a security question and they will have troops, something which an ageing EU will be sorely in need of.

Supplying troop requirements for the EU may well be no little issue if you look at the difficulties we are already having in Afghanistan and Lebanon. I don't know if you saw gangs of New York, but Scorsese has the Yankee army signing up recruits straight off the boat from Ireland. Being cynical we could set up (I *am* joking) a recruitment station in the Canary Islands to get the Senegalese off the boat, into uniform and off to man the Russian front (we may one day have no little problem with the Baltic states). I don't know if you read literature, but Dino Butzati had an excellent novel with this kind of surrealist tinge: the Tartar Steppe.

Will Baird said...

Getting a little nervous about Russia, Edward?

:D

Edward said...

"Getting a little nervous about Russia, Edward?"

You bet. Societies in melt-down preoccupy me. Try this:

Russian fuel going to Iran plant

Russia will ship fuel to a controversial atomic power plant it is building in Iran by March under a deal signed Tuesday, news agencies reported, as Tehran's nuclear chief met with a Russian security officer at the Kremlin.

The agreement signed by Sergei Shmatko, head of the state-run company Atomstroiexport, and Mahmoud Hanatian, vice president of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, should allay Iran's complaints that Moscow is dragging its feet on supplying fuel for the Bushehr plant.

It will also renew concerns by the West, which accuses Tehran of seeking to enrich uranium in order to build nuclear weapons.

Randy said...

Turkey contains a variety of populations with different demographic patterns. The Kurdish southeast, in particular, has a much higher TFR than the developed west, while the scale of rural-to-urban/east-to-west migration in Turkey is quite significant indeed.

Even if Turkey as a whole remains a net immigrant-receiving country, some subpopulations--the most distinct ones--may still take part in various emigration movements. There are large Kurdish communities in western Europe, after all.

Edward said...

"Even if Turkey as a whole remains a net immigrant-receiving country, some subpopulations--the most distinct ones--may still take part in various emigration movements."

Yes, surely. But my point would be that Turkey has now moved over to internally driven migration, just like Spain did in the 1960s.

The migration of the Kurds towards the west of Turkey is now pretty big. Indeed it is inpart the Kurdish community in and around Ankara which is the most vociferous for EU membership since they see this as the way to get the changes they want inside Turkey.

S.M. Stirling said...

I think the day of Eurocrats in Brussels forcing through policies which are widely unpopular is over.

Turkey won't get in; and the Constitution is DOA. Too many people have made it far too clear that they're thoroughly fed up with this sort of contempt for democracy.

Edward said...

Ramki:

"I am not sure if it is correct in assuming that Turkey can significantly alleviate the ills of an ageing EU ; any numerical data that backs this idea would be welcome."

Well no, I don't have numerical data at this stage, only thoughts.

But let's think about ageing and imbalances. Germany is strong on savings, and other EU economies can go that way as they age. Other EU economies are younger right now and have more labour - the UK, Spain.

I am presently doing a serious rethink on Spain. Initially I thought that what was happening here was a straight housing bubble, and in this sense was dangerous. I still think that *might* be the case. But there is another possible interpretation. Spain may be recycling excess German savings. In which case Spain's relatively younger economy may be counterbalancing the German one. And Spain is - via the immigration which is following in the wake of the boom - achieving a population transformation.

How sustainable is this in the long run. I don't know, nobody does. But it does make me think that at some stage in the future Turkey could play some kind of similar role. Basically I think we need all the help we can get.

Edward said...

Stirling:

"Too many people have made it far too clear that they're thoroughly fed up with this sort of contempt for democracy."

Well fine, but are you referring to the Lisbon Reform process here? This is certainly one of the more unpopular measures, and in which case, how do we avoid, now how did you put it, "falling into the abyss".

In the short term raising fertility simply isn't viable and isn't going to happen.

Randy said...

Edward:

But my point would be that Turkey has now moved over to internally driven migration, just like Spain did in the 1960s.

Perhaps, but I'm reminded of the example of Poland in the 1990s, which attracted plenty of immigrants from its east. 21st century Poland still produced a large number of emigrants despite this history, as soon as mass emigration became possible.

Nandan Desai said...

The point with saying that Turkey will drift closer to Iran/Russia was meant as a way of saying that, over the long term (say 25 years), the EU has very little to offer Turkey (convergence is not an EU-specific phenomenon, their is latent and explicit resentment against Muslims, and immigration, as Edward noted, is a non-issue). On the other hand, if Turkey decides to shift its focus eastward towards Asia, then it can look toward China/India for economic integration, Russia/Iran for energy, and still cut FTAs with the EU, US.

Edward, I am much more of an EU-skeptic than you which is why I think this (not joining) is the rational choice for Turkey, and what will likely happen in Brussels anyhow.

We can have a longer discussion on whether the EU itself was a good idea - but I think my argument boils down to the fact that I don't think it was. My condensed reasoning is: one cannot have political leaders forcing integration on their constituents, it has to be done the other way around.

Edward said...

"Edward, I am much more of an EU-skeptic than you which is why I think this (not joining) is the rational choice for Turkey, and what will likely happen in Brussels anyhow"

OK, well this is a whole different discussion.

"We can have a longer discussion on whether the EU itself was a good idea - but I think my argument boils down to the fact that I don't think it was."

My view is a rather different one. I am in fact a 'euro' sceptic, that is I think the decision to set up a common currency was taken far too quickly, and without fully understanding the consequences. This is now going to cause all sorts of problems.

But I am not a 'eurosceptic', quite the contrary. I think that the integration of the EU economies in a single market was a very good move, and I think political integration is a matter of survival given the globalised nature of this world, and the demographic challenges we are now faced with.

Basically I don't think that Norway and Switzerland are going anywhere interesting, indeed the latter - following their recent immigration referendum and the protracted ageing population issues they have been experiencing - may be soon headed for a rather nasty place.

With all the fuss about what has been happening elsewhere, the fact that Switzerland has been having to operate a virtual ZIRP policy on interest rates has gone laregly uncommented on.

"My condensed reasoning is: one cannot have political leaders forcing integration on their constituents, it has to be done the other way around."

OK, well this is likely to be a long and ongoing debate, but I would just draw your attention to what you have been saying in an Indian context, sometimes having a central bureaucracy is the only way to get effective reform. In many ways India and the EU are more similar than people realise.

Take the latest debate on IEB about the Kannadigas, for example. References to Europe in the identity and linguistic debate are very common.

We are in a multicultural globalised world, there is no getting away from this, and technocrats may in fact wake up to the implications more quickly than Joe on the Clapham omnibus.

I also think the Washington based bureaucracy in the US will do its best to steer things away from the nascent protectionism there.

I think we need to get away from the discourse where these people are seen as essentially 'evil'. The bureaucrats in Brussels are often more visionary than the local natinal politicians, and are often chided for doing things when really they have the best interests of the population at heart.

Of course the populist discourses would have it otherwise.

S.M. Stirling said...

"In the short term raising fertility simply isn't viable and isn't going to happen."

-- well, nothing else will work, so it _has_ to happen, unless extinction is an option.

That's going to require structural readjustments -- society shifting its resources to supporting children at the expense of the elderly whatever the short-term pain.

ramki830 said...

"That's going to require structural readjustments -- society shifting its resources to supporting children at the expense of the elderly whatever the short-term pain. "

This will happen automatically when the ratio of workers to dependants falls below 1... then labor costs should surge and elderly would confront rising cost of "personal care" services eating into their quality of lives and eventually reducing their longevity .

And maybe, we may even see some countries enacting/providing for youth labor quotas to serve the personal care needs of some priveleged sections of population...

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