Turkey and the EU are set to meet for a third High-level Economic Dialogue in Istanbul Thursday. In a statement, the EU delegation to Turkey said Wednesday that Turkey and the EU had agreed to establish the High-level Economic Dialogue mechanism at the Turkey-EU Summit on Nov. 29, 2015. It will contribute to the further enhancement of economic relations and create a platform to bring European and Turkish business circles together with policymakers. Two such high-level dialogues have been organized so far, namely in Istanbul and Ankara in 2016 and in Brussels in 2017.
The Turkey-EU High Level Economic Dialogue 2019 will be co-chaired by the Vice President of the European Commission, Jyrki Katainen and the Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
"The meeting will consist of two parts: The Turkey-EU Business Dialogue, where several Turkish and European business leaders will meet with the European Commission and the Turkish Government, and the Inter-Governmental Dialogue where the EU and Turkey will discuss issues related to the current economic situation, structural reforms, investment and trade relations and the Customs union," according to the statement.
The event will also be attended by the EU Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc and the Transport and Infrastructure Minister Cahit Turhan. They will sign a bilateral agreement on the co-financing of the construction of the Halkalı Kapıkule Railway Line under the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance II (IPA II).
Moreover, Vice President of the European Commission Katainen and Treasury and Finance Minister Albayrak will attend a joint press briefing.
In the meantime, the modernization of the customs union between Turkey and the EU has been on the agenda of the bilateral meetings for more than two years now.
Though both sides have expressed the will to take steps to update the agreement, as it will be advantageous for both sides, no concrete development has so far been observed; yet, the efforts to maintain diplomatic dialogue continue with a particular insistence on the benefits it will yield for both sides.
During the 5th Reform Action Group (RAG) meeting last December, Treasury and Finance Minister Albayrak said that one of the top economic items of agenda in Turkey-EU ties is the modernization of the customs union, for which both sides continue diplomatic dialogue at the highest level.
He had noted that the updating of the customs union will operate as leverage for economic development, while also remarking that the customs union is offering a more promising negotiation process for Turkey's ties with the EU.
"We will strongly express our demands for the update of the agreement at the 3rd Turkey-EU High-Level Economic Dialogue Meeting on Feb. 28 on a mutual gain basis," Albayrak had said.
Turkey is the only non-EU country that has had a customs union agreement, which was inked in 1966, with the bloc. Turkey has been one of the largest trade partners of the union with an export value of $84 billion and an import value of $80 billion in 2018 in goods alone.
In its Dec. 21, 2016, assessment, the EU Commission proposed the modernization of the current deal, which only covers a limited range of industrial products and excludes agriculture, public procurement and services.