Energy in relations with the EU - ERDAL TANAS KARAGÖL

Energy in relations with the EU

Economy is the most important agenda of Turkey-EU relations that have been ongoing for years. Because, it is seen that bilateral relations that are established on the backbone of trade have made significant progress from the past to present, in light of these developments.

Presently, EU countries have about a 40 percent share in Turkey's foreign trade volume. A more detailed analysis shows that while EU countries' share in our total export is at about 47 percent, this rate appears to be 36.4 percent in import.

The current state indicates that we are at an important point in bilateral relations in foreign trade, and as a matter of fact, that the foreign trade volume can be even further increased in the upcoming period.

Energy supply security of EU countries

Turkey's geopolitical position places it in an important point in energy trade. Turkey acts as a corridor in the transmission of energy in the vastest energy supply points, the Middle East and the Caspian region, to the EU, which is one of the world's biggest energy demanding regions.

Turkey offers an opportunity to countries in its nearby region that possess rich energy sources, both in terms of energy supply and meeting their market needs. Similarly, this way, the countries demanding energy also meet their energy needs.

Hence, just as EU countries and Turkey are intertwined in foreign trade, it is possible to say that this structure also holds an important potential in energy trade and transfer.

Especially in the period following the Russia-Ukraine crisis, energy supply security has become a sensitive issue for the EU, and a change in energy policies with respect to alternative routes and sources is frequently brought up on the agenda.

At this point, Turkey has shown its strategic significance in Europe's energy policies, with the route security it offers, and the role of energy has stood out more in relations with the EU.

In this sense, it would not be wrong to say that with the development of bilateral relations, the EU will have a wider scale containing more alternatives that will diversify its energy sources.

Because, oil and natural gas have the greatest share in EU countries' energy consumption. Oil and natural gas supply is provided largely by importing it from Russia. In this context, in the case of any likely crisis, taking measures in terms of energy security stands as an extremely reasonable option.

The path leading to the East Mediterranean

The East Mediterranean basin that has been drawing attention in world energy markets, with the discovery of its rich natural gas fields in recent years, has an extremely important role in terms of energy supply security within the scope of EU-Turkey relations as well.

Israel, South Cyprus, and Egypt, the other actors that have resources in the region, aim to eventually get their resources primarily to the EU market.

However, none of the actors have been able to reach a mutual agreement among themselves in terms of the source quantity individually discovered in their own fields and the route to be taken to transfer them. This, thus drives the energy policies to be implemented in the East Mediterranean into a different dead end by the day.

So, what is the issue that brings these countries together on a common ground and will provide mutual benefit to both sides? Energy supply security, of course. The quest for alternatives in energy sources, the topic on which the EU has been placing the greatest emphasis in recent years, clearly explains why it has an interest in the resources in the Eastern Mediterranean basin.

In this context, while both sides are supposed to reach an agreement as soon as possible and conduct energy trade, this energy dead end in this region is yet to be solved.

Presenting projects that are extremely difficult to implement instead of evaluating the fact that there is more than one actor in the energy equilibrium in the East Mediterranean, as well as the existing advantages regarding the route, drives this situation further into a dead end by the day.

Turkey and the East Mediterranean

Let's get to the topic of Turkey's solution to the energy gridlock in the East Mediterranean. Turkey already has a transfer route in the east-west direction with the Trans-Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline (TANAP) project, which is currently part of the Southern Gas Corridor.

Hence, this route offers the most ideal path to the countries in the region with respect to transferring Eastern Mediterranean gas to Europe in terms of its close proximity to the region, cost and gas quantity.

Therefore, with a high-cost project like the East-Med, there is no need to transfer Eastern Mediterranean natural gas to Europe through sea or to seek alternative transfer means.

It should be noted that the role Turkey already has in EU's energy supply security is obvious, and that it will continue to advance its policies in this context in the upcoming period.


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