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The Future of EU-Turkey Relations. Mapping Dynamics and Testing Scenarios

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FEUTURE (The Future of EU-Turkey Relations. Mapping Dynamics and Testing Scenarios)

Reporting period: 2017-04-01 to 2019-03-31

The European Commission selected the project FEUTURE (692976) as a unicum – the biggest ever EU-funded research project explicitly bringing together the policy communities with universities and think tanks from the EU (7), Turkey (5) and the neighbourhood (3) – in crucial and critical times. In its three year-project-lifetime (1 Apr 2016 - 31 Mar 2019) FEUTURE’s general aim was the assessment of the future of EU-Turkey relations by mapping dynamics and testing scenarios – on which FEUTURE delivered one Background Paper, 32 Online Papers, 7 Synthesis Papers, PhD Online Papers, EU-28 Country Reports, 8 FEUTURE Voices, 11 Take-Aways from and for FEUTURE, an Edited Volume, Policy Recommendations, numerous videos, and various dissemination events (9 Policy Challenge Sessions, 7 FEUTURE lectures, stakeholder meetings).

FEUTURE was important for society because of the very fact that a consortium spanning across Europe, Turkey and the neighbourhood has continued its work notwithstanding political trends and crucially contributed to objectification and de-politicisation of the debate on EU-Turkey relations while they were caught up in a vicious-cycle of deterioration and mutually reinforcing claims.

FEUTURE addressed the issue of EU-Turkey relations, that represents a ‘moving target’ in academic and policy terms with sharp U-turns involved and increasing speed during the project’s lifetime.

EU-Turkey relations have been dominated by a process of ‘othering’ while at the same time their total breakdown has not materialised. Against this backdrop, the FEUTURE project provided conclusions in terms of the following relevant explanations:
- We are facing a contested f(e)uture in terms of identity and narratives.
- We need to be aware of the unknown-unknowns in the f(e)uture.
- It takes two to tango in the f(e)uture: developments in the EU are as important as in Turkey.
- There are different f(e)utures ahead: EU-Turkey relations will most likely continue oscillating between conflict and cooperation within a scenario of conflictual cooperation.
- In the f(e)uture we need dynamic association that would move the relationship out of the strict confines of the accession process still allowing the EU and Turkey to keep open multiple channels of communication across various levels of government, intensifying dialogue on key subjects and fostering cooperation closer than any transactional arrangement would allow for.
- We propose the modernisation of the Customs Union as the f(e)uture’s backbone.

This short Video provides an introduction to FEUTURE:
FEUTURE successfully concluded its activities by achieving all milestones and deliverables and synthesising the research outcomes into final project publications (see The project’s work plan was structured in a triple ‘E’-set of phases:
Elaboration, including historical analysis of narratives and foresight exercise of framing three ideal-type scenarios of the relationship (Phase 1, 01 Apr 2016 - 30 Sep 2016).
Exploration of the relationship by identifying, analysing and ranking drivers in 6 thematic dimensions (politics, economics, security, energy, migration, identity) located at four levels of analysis (EU, Turkey, neighbourhood, global), in order to delineate the most likely scenario(s) (Phase 2, 01 Sep 2016 - 31 Mar 2018).
Extrapolation of implications of the most likely scenario(s) for Turkey and the EU and drawing evidence-based policy recommendations (Phase 3, 01 Apr 2018 - 31 Mar 2019).

Research results:
- The historical analysis on narratives identified limited room for manoeuvre in EU-Turkey relations arguing that the goal of full membership in Turkey’s discourse – combined with an increasing unresponsiveness of European actors for this goal – could hinder a discussion on more differentiated or creative forms of cooperation.
- A total of 32 online papers and EU-28 country reports provide rich and detailed insights into what drives the EU-Turkey relationship in its individual dimensions. In general, security covers a wide space around “cooperation” but leaning strongly towards “conflict”; similar trends can be observed for the migration dimension; the most likely scenario in the energy dimension is centred on “cooperation” with only a slight tilt towards “conflict”; the economy is the only dimension in which the most likely scenario is leaning heavily towards “convergence” and in contrast vis-à-vis the other thematic dimensions, with only little nudge towards conflict.
- FEUTURE synthesised the research findings into the scenario of ‘conflictual cooperation’ and elaborated the institutional frame of ‘dynamic association’ in the project’s final synthesis paper (FEUTURE synthesis paper,

Dissemination and exploitation:
- Three large scale Conferences;
- FEUTURE Website, Newsletter, YouTube Channel, Social Media, Infographics;
- Public panels, Lectures, Policy Challenge Sessions;
- Closed-door discussions with stakeholders in Brussels, Member States and Turkey;
- High-Level Expert Workshop;
- PhD Workshops, Simulation Game, Young Leaders Conference;
- Evidence-based policy recommendations in form of FEUTURE Voice No. 8 and “11 Take-Aways from and for F(e)uture”;
- Preparing an Edited Volume “The Future of EU-Turkey Relations” with the publishing house Nomos.
FEUTURE extended and added to the state of the art in EU-Turkey relations by targeting 3 user communities – academics, stakeholders and the broader public – with a special focus on reaching out to early-stage researchers. It linked its research results to them through 1) diversification of research within 6 thematic dimensions; 2) formulation of evidence-based policy recommendations; 3) exchanges within a mutually beneficial approach for advancing and testing research results.

The project’s impact was 3-dimensional by targeting academic knowledge, policy-making and building of epistemic communities.

Academically, FEUTURE provided
- analytical assessments of drivers of EU-Turkey relations compiled in 32 online papers and established “conflictual cooperation” as most likely scenario for the overall relationship. This includes unexpected findings and confirms previous wisdoms, e.g. that the relationship is marked by deep and complex forms of interdependence;
- new empirical data on drivers identifying their weight and relevance for the EU-Turkey relationship, on flows of goods and services, finances and knowledge, on identity, public opinion and narratives and on the most likely scenario for EU-Turkey relations substantiated by an Elite Survey;
- information on othering in the relations contributing to a fact-driven academic understanding of the potentials of integrating Turkey with the EU;
- collecting the main findings in an Edited Volume.

Practically, FEUTURE
- engaged with the user-community not just as target of research but as part of the dialogue;
- offered policy advice to policy-makers and practitioners by producing 8 FEUTURE Voices, “11 Take-Aways from and for FEUTURE” and a set of policy recommendations – all available on the project’s website:

Structurally, FEUTURE developed
- epistemic communities of academics, policy-makers, civil society and opinion-shapers;
- new concepts and criteria for EU-Turkey relations taken up by the academic and political debate;
- links to the harder-to-to reach community in Turkey with Turkish texts.
FEUTURE Lecture 2018 held by Prof. Wolfgang Wessels in Cologne
FEUTURE Mid-term Conference 2017 at CIDOB in Barcelona
FEUTURE Mid-term Conference 2017 at CIDOB in Barcelona
FEUTURE Kick-Off Conference 2016 at Bilgi University Istanbul
FEUTURE PhD Workshop 2018 in Istanbul
FEUTURE Family Picture at the Concluding Conference 2019 in Brussels
FEUTURE Kick-Off Conference 2016 at Bilgi University Istanbul
FEUTURE Synthesis Workshop 2018 in Brussels
FEUTURE Consortium
FEUTURE Concluding Conference 2019 in Brussels
FEUTURE Keyvisual small
FEUTURE Synthesis Workshop 2018 in Brussels
FEUTURE Lecture 2019 held by Dr. Funda Tekin at CIFE in Nice