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Turkey-EU tensions spill over to customs union accord

Amid mounting bilateral tensions, Germany has ruled out talks on improving Turkey’s customs union accord with the European Union, but such sanctions might have little effect on Ankara in the short term.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) poses with European Council President Donald Tusk (R) and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (L) in Brussels, Belgium, May 25, 2017.       REUTERS/Francois Lenoir - RTX37KFD
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has recently toughened her tone against Ankara, irked by its growing disrespect for democratic norms and the arrests of German journalists and activists in Turkey. This has led many to believe that she will try to mobilize European Union institutions to pressure Ankara, including through certain sanctions.

Last week, the German leader signaled that Turkey’s customs union with the EU, an important phase on the path to full membership, would be an area where Ankara would face the music. Turkey has sought an update to the 1995 customs union deal, arguing that it has developed to Turkey's disadvantage over the years. Negotiations on the issue were expected to start around this time after the European Commission got the green light from the European Council.

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