Greater cooperation between the EU and Turkey in renewable energy and energy efficiency could have a significantly positive impact on relations, Brussels-based think tank Bruegel said yesterday in its latest report titled, "A New Strategy for EU-Turkey Energy Cooperation."
Penned by Bruegel fellows Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann, the report indicated that cooperation regarding energy and climate issues could be a component in fostering a positive agenda for EU-Turkey relations.
"However, to make a real impact on long-term energy, climate and environmental sustainability and on overall macroeconomic and geopolitical stability, current priorities in the field should be changed, shifting the focus from the highly visible but less impacting gas and electricity sectors to sectors such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear energy and carbon trading," the report read.
The report suggested that the EU should scale up the financial support it currently provides within the framework of its climate commitments to Turkey's renewables and energy efficiency.
"This would make a stronger case for renewables and efficiency projects in Turkey, particularly as the cost of capital continues to represent a major barrier for these investments," the report said, adding that regarding carbon markets, the EU can offer institutional support to Turkey, similar to the support it provides to other countries, like China.
"Only by shifting these priorities can EU-Turkey energy and climate cooperation take on a truly strategic role as part of the EU-Turkey relationship and ultimately become a vibrant component of a much-awaited ‘positive agenda,'" it stressed. The report also noted that Turkey has sought to become a full member of the European integration project since 1987 but, notwithstanding significant advances such as the establishment of the EU-Turkey Customs Union in 1995, bilateral relations have faced many difficulties, including the open opposition of Germany and France to Turkish EU membership.
The report once again reiterated that gas has been at the heart of EU-Turkey energy discussions.
The report said that Turkey has emerged as a potential key transit country because of its strategic position located between Europe and the gas-rich countries of the Caspian Sea and the Middle East, adding that Turkey is in a position to significantly contribute to the security of the EU's gas supply.
Bruegel explained that EU-Turkey cooperation on renewables and energy efficiency is much less developed than its cooperation on gas and electricity, and has mainly consisted of European financial support for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Turkey.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the European Commission have provided support dating as far back as 1965.
"Stronger EU-Turkey cooperation in the field could have a major positive impact, particularly taking into account the still-limited development of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Turkey," the report said.