Policy brief

A new strategy for European Union-Turkey energy cooperation

In a period of stress in the relationship between the European Union and Turkey, cooperation over energy could be a bright spot, because of strong mut

Publishing date
24 October 2017

This paper was produced within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Energy and Climate Dialogues, with the kind support of Stiftung Mercator

In a period of stress in the relationship between the European Union and Turkey, cooperation over energy could be a bright spot, because of strong mutual interests. However, EU-Turkey cooperation over energy requires a rethink. Up to now, gas and electricity have represented the main components of cooperation. Though highly visible, cooperation in these fields appears to be limited in practise.

By contrast, cooperation in other fields – such as renewables, energy efficiency, nuclear energy and emissions trading – could make a real impact on long-term energy, climate and environmental sustainability, and on overall macroeconomic and geopolitical stability.

On renewables and energy efficiency, the EU could support Turkey by scaling-up the financial support it currently provides within the framework of its climate finance commitments. This would reinforce the case for renewables and efficiency projects in Turkey, particularly as the cost of capital continues to represent a major barrier for these investments.

On nuclear energy, the EU can make a sensible contribution to the establishment of a nuclear energy sector in Turkey. This can notably be accomplished by integrating Turkey into the framework of Euratom.

On carbon markets, the EU can offer institutional support to Turkey, as is already being done with other countries such as China.

Refocusing bilateral cooperation on renewable energy, energy efficiency, nuclear energy and carbon markets would be more effective and strategic for both the EU and Turkey. For the EU, it would provide an opportunity to put its sustainable energy leadership aspirations into practice, while opening up new commercial opportunities. For Turkey, it would enhance both climate and environmental performance, while reducing the energy import bill and energy dependency on Russia.

This change in priorities would also be important to head off Turkey’s rush into coal. Turkey currently has the third largest coal power plant development programme in the world, after India and China.

About the authors

  • Georg Zachmann

    Georg Zachmann is a Senior Fellow at Bruegel, where he has worked since 2009 on energy and climate policy. His work focuses on regional and distributional impacts of decarbonisation, the analysis and design of carbon, gas and electricity markets, and EU energy and climate policies. Previously, he worked at the German Ministry of Finance, the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin, the energy think tank LARSEN in Paris, and the policy consultancy Berlin Economics.

  • Simone Tagliapietra

    Simone Tagliapietra is a Senior fellow at Bruegel. He is also Adjunct professor of Energy, Climate and Environmental Policy at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore and at The Johns Hopkins University - School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Europe.

    His research focuses on the European Union climate and energy policy and on the political economy of global decarbonisation. With a record of numerous policy and scientific publications, he is the author of Global Energy Fundamentals (Cambridge University Press, 2020), L’Energia del Mondo (Il Mulino, 2020) and Energy Relations in the Euro-Mediterranean (Palgrave, 2017).

    His columns and policy work are published and cited in leading international media such as the Financial Times, The New York Times, The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, Die Zeit, Corriere della Sera, Il Sole 24 Ore and others.

    Simone holds a PhD in Institutions and Policies from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. Born in the Dolomites in 1988, he speaks Italian, English and French.

Related content