EU Seeks to Expand Energy Co-operation with Turkey
The 2014 Progress Report on Turkey, which is included in the European Commission’s annual Enlargement Report, was published on 8 October 2014. The Commission assess the progress made over the last year by candidate countries in EU accession via such progress reports. Each report is based on the analysis of candidate countries’ ability to take on the obligations of membership outlined in 33 acquis chapters, examples being free movement of goods and capital, information society and media, transport policy, etc. Here, the 2014 Progress Report on Turkey will be examined with regard to the Energy Chapter, which has not yet been opened due to the Republic of Cyprus’s veto.
First of all, the Commission highlights the importance of Turkey’s strategic location and the will of the EU to further cooperate with Turkey in the realm of energy security. The topics examined under the Energy Chapter are essentially: supply security, the internal energy market, renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear safety and radiation protection, and electricity networks. On the one hand, the progress Turkey has made in the aforementioned areas was evaluated and some deficiencies were indicated. On the other hand, the Report also mentions Turkey’s approach towards Cyprus’s hydrocarbon exploration in the East Mediterranean, recommending that the country change its current path.
According to the Report, decisions regarding final investments in Southern Gas Corridor projects including the Shah Deniz II field, the trans-Anatolian pipeline, and the trans-Adriatic pipeline contribute to Europe’s energy supply security. In addition, the Report assess the importance of recent developments such as the granting of licenses for the import of 3.2 billion cubic meters of gas annually from Northern Iraq and for the export of gas to Greece.
Regarding the internal energy market, the Report stated that Turkey has made considerable progress in the field of privatization of the electricity market although the process is not yet complete. Particularly, the Report specified that Turkey’s Energy Markets Operation Joint Stock Company (EPIAS) must continue to function smoothly and that the country must also assure the prevention of cross-subsidization between customers.
According to the Report, concerning renewable energy, Turkey promotes small-scale renewable energy sources, particularly wind power plants and solar energy sources, with implementation regulations issued under the Electricity Market Law. With respect to energy efficiency, the Report stresses that Turkey needs a comprehensive and detailed roadmap for aligning its legal arrangements with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.
As stated by the Report, Turkey needs a framework law on nuclear energy and radiation as well as an independent regulatory authority. The Report also points out that the law on acceding to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management is still awaiting approval by parliament. Lastly, regarding electricity networks, the completion of electricity interconnection lines with Bulgaria and Georgia is found as an advantageous endeavor in terms of energy supply security.
Regarding the Cyprus issue, the Report emphasizes the sovereign rights of EU Member States. According to the Report, Cyprus’s hydrocarbon exploration and its entrance into bilateral agreements for such resource exploration should be acknowledged as the sovereign rights of Cyprus. Therefore, the Report stated that Turkey must respect these rights in order to prevent damaging good neighborly relations.
Overall, the Report assess the progress of Turkey in the field of energy, especially in areas relevant to security of supply, the internal market for electricity, and renewable energy. Expert at USAK’s Center for European Union Studies Fatma Yılmaz Elmas commented that the remarks in the Report referring to the Cyprus issue show that political consensus must be achieved before the application of technical conditions that align with EU legislation. In addition, Elmas stated that considering the current state of relations between Turkey and Cyprus, it does not seem likely that the energy chapter will be opened anytime soon.
USAK Director for Energy Security Studies Hasan Selim Özertem commented that the important references to the Southern Gas Corridor made in the Report suggest that Azerbaijan, Iraq, Iran and the Eastern Mediterranean region will be highly discussed in terms of energy. Özertem added that in order for these projects to be successfully implemented, the political tensions nested between the aforementioned countries necessitates political cooperation, and in this way, increased dialogue between the EU and Turkey will gain more importance.
Our Thanks to the Journal of Turkish Weekly