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Entrapped again: The way to EU membership negotiations with Turkey


The membership of Turkey is one of the most controversial external relations issues of the European Union (EU). In a comparison of four instances of decision-making on accession negotiations with Turkey between 1997 and 2006, this paper explains why and under which conditions Turkey has progressed on the way to EU membership in spite of persistent and increasing divergence of membership preferences. In line with the entrapment hypothesis of normative institutionalism, the analysis shows that Turkey and its supporters within the EU have been able to overcome the opposition to its membership bid to the extent that Turkey followed the fundamental norms of the EU.

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  1. GDP per capita in purchasing power standards for 2005 according to EU Rapid Press Release, STAT/06/166, 18 December 2006.

  2. See Alber (2006, pp. 376–377) based on data from the European Value Survey and the European Quality of Life Survey.

  3. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 24 December 1997 (on Dini); Le Monde, 7 December 1997 (on Chirac); and press conference of Jacques Chirac, 13 December 1997 (available at

  4. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 9 June 1999.

  5. For an overview of government positions in this period, see the compilation by Sven Prange, available at Unless otherwise indicated, I draw on this compilation.

  6. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 16 July 2005 and 3 September 2005.

  7. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 1 October 2005.

  8. ‘EU leaders polarized over Turkey talks,’ Turkish Daily News, 30 November 2006; ‘France and Germany step up pressure on Turkey,’ EurActiv, 4 December 2006.

  9. Cited according to Engert (2004, pp. 46–47).

  10. Günter Verheugen, Den Haag, 4 November 1999, SPEECH/99/151, Rapid Database, cited according to Engert (2004, p. 64). See also Der Spiegel 42/1999.

  11. ‘I’m sorry,’ Turkish Daily News, 9 June 1999; Romano Prodi in a speech before the European Parliament, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2 December 1999.

  12. See for example, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 10 April 2004.

  13. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 30 August 2005.

  14. Süddeutsche Zeitung, 3 August 2005; 3 September 2005.

  15. UK foreign minister Jack Straw in a Press Conference on 3 October 2005, available at

  16. EU Rapid Press Release, 29 November 2006, IP/06/1652.

  17. ‘Turkey EU membership talks ‘partially on hold’,’ EurActiv, 12 December 2006.

  18. International Herald Tribune, 11 December 2006.


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I thank Alexander Bürgin for research assistance and the participants and commentators at the project workshops in Pittsburgh and Dublin for valuable comments.

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Schimmelfennig, F. Entrapped again: The way to EU membership negotiations with Turkey. Int Polit 46, 413–431 (2009).

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  • Turkey
  • EU membership
  • normative institutionalism
  • entrapment hypothesis