Turkey’s Energy Security vis-à-vis Integration with the EU

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Pinni B building auditorium 1096, address: Kanslerinrinne 1


Doctoral defence of M.Sc. Dicle Korkmaz Temel

Turkey’s Energy Security vis-à-vis Integration with the EU: A Narrative Policy Analysis from the English School Perspective

The field of science of the dissertation is International Relations.

The opponent is professor Mert Bilgin (Istanbul Medipol University). Professor Pami Aalto acts as the custos.

The language of the dissertation defence is English.

Turkey’s Energy Security vis-à-vis Integration with the EU

This research addresses Turkey-EU relations as regards natural gas. It contributes to the literature both theoretically and empirically. Drawing on the English School, particularly Barry Buzan’s international society approach, the research applies the concept of energy security society to Turkey-EU energy relations. It aims to further develop the understanding of such a society by referring to the concept of primary institutions and the interlinkages between them, and by examining primary institutions in EU and Turkish narratives during 2001-2014. Accordingly, the research analyses what kind of integration the EU and Turkish actors have sought to establish with each other. From an empirical perspective, it examines the positions of EU actors on the role of Turkey in the European energy security and explores to what extent the positions of Turkish actors on energy security in the field of natural gas constrain/enable integration with the EU. Emery Roe’s narrative policy analysis is used to classify the narratives and Pertti Alasuutari’s approach to examine each of them.

As regards the findings on Turkey’s role in European energy security, there was a consensus among the EU actors on diversification of suppliers and extending market values. Diversification of suppliers refers to how to access Caspian and Middle Eastern sources. Turkey became involved owing to its geographical proximity to these regions. However, the EU actors disagreed on the content of the Southern Corridor, which was the means to achieve the goal.  Extending market values aimed to contribute to the creation of a wider energy market to increase competitiveness, reduce prices and ensure security of supply. Although the EU actors agreed on the goal of extending market values, they did not reach consensus on whether the accession process could be a tool for this. However, all EU actors considered the Energy Community a feasible means and agreed to embark on intense co-operation in the field of energy, which would yield mutual benefits for Turkey and the EU. The primary institutions of the market and contemporary sovereignty played decisive roles in determining the type of integration for the EU actors. This further exemplifies the interrelationship between primary institutions, including the harmonisation of legislation within the scope of the market institution paving the way for new regulative rules, such as legitimate intervention, which is applicable when contemporary sovereignty is involved. Accordingly, the type of integration the EU preferred to have with Turkey was that of converging energy security society, meaning convergence of internal markets but no transfer of competence to any superior authority in external energy issues.

To understand how Turkish narrators perceived the EU’s narratives on diversification and extending market values, the research examines the Turkish narratives on pipelines and restructuring the market. Ensuring Turkey’s security of supply was the main goal, which would be achieved via pipelines. The narrators were unanimous on the need to diversify suppliers, given Turkey’s geographical location. The difference between these narratives was in the ways envisaged to achieve security of supply and strengthen Turkey’s role in the existing distribution of power. The EU’s goal to diversify suppliers was consonant with Turkish actors’ goals to secure supply by means of an energy corridor and by establishing an energy hub/energy terminal. The benefits were reciprocal as the Turkish actors’ various approaches to the establishment of an energy hub/energy terminal, and transit status supported the EU’s goal.

Regarding restructuring the market, although the narrators were unanimous on the goal of securing supply, bearing in mind Turkey’s heavy external dependence, they differed on how to ensure secure and competitive/low-cost energy. The positions of different narrators on the Natural Gas Law, the Draft Law amending the Natural Gas Law and the Transit Law were examined. The main dividing line between the different narratives was the state’s role in the market. Furthermore, differences emerged among the Turkish narratives as regards the perception of public service, positions on a vertically integrated but legally unbundled body in the market, on how to restructure the state company and the Transit Law.

In spite of congruence between the EU’s narratives on diversification and Turkey’s narratives on pipelines, no such harmony prevailed among the narratives, except those of the private sector, on extending market values and restructuring the market. Therefore, in the case of Turkey, the type of integration sought changed according to the actors. The primary institutions of the market, state capitalism and modern sovereignty played decisive roles in determining the types of integration envisaged by the Turkish narrators. The research shows that the significance of transit for many Turkish actors has the potential to delay harmonisation on this issue until accession, even if negotiations start on the energy chapter. The private sector’s position enabled converging energy security society, as they aimed at full harmonisation with the EU including the transit segment. The position of the Justice and Development Party, which formed the government for most of the period researched, and the positions of other market oriented narrators continued to favour a co-operative energy security society, meaning shared values such as security of supply and competitiveness. As for the unions, their recommendation for the state to be the leading economic actor and to be decisive in the market, and their opposition to any foreign involvement in the transit segment prevented them from being co-operative and necessitated a coexistent type of energy security society, which does not necessitate shared values, thereby constraining any further integration.

Overall, the empirical analysis shows that it makes no difference from the EU’s point of view in relation to energy whether Turkey is a member of the EU or not, as long as it is a member of the Energy Community. The expectation of the EU when Turkey is not a member is as the same as in the event of Turkey’s EU membership. One significant finding of this research was that, despite the large amount of geopolitically dominated literature on Turkey-EU relations in the field of energy, the domestic discussions in Turkey were mainly driven by discussions on energy economics. The fact that the type of integration desired changed according to actors in Turkey was also apparent in the actors’ positions on the pan-European energy community, which refers to a regulatory area around Europe with common rules in the field of energy. Accordingly, while the private sector narrative was in line with the pan-European energy community and the unions’ narrative was outside it, other market oriented narrators’ narratives concurred with some parts of the pan-European energy community.


The dissertation is self-published publication.

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