Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Rocard and Juppé debate Turkish EU Membership

Here. This is a curious debate. It's more about the nature of the EU than about the wisdom of admitting Turkey. An absurd objection, some will say: the wisdom of admitting Turkey depends on what you think the EU is and should be. Rocard, I would say, takes the view that what the EU is about is establishing a framework in which a group of contiguous nations can maximize the likelihood that peace rather than war will reign across their territories. Juppé says that his "opposition is primarily of an economic order," but he also describes Europe as potentially "the bearer of a project of civilization," which the admission of Turkey would somehow compromise by making the Union an "American Europe."

I have no idea what he means by that. Indeed, the two aspects of Juppé's position are somewhat contradictory. If the EU is primarily an economic union, then economic logic rather than "civilizational" boundaries should determine its future. Of course, if the question is the optimal size of an economic union, then Europe may already have exceeded its "natural frontiers." The whole debate seems badly framed, so that neither participant can make much headway. But with an EU parliamentary election looming, the objective isn't to make sense; it's rather to declare for or against Turkey in a sufficiently nebulous way not to offend the Turks yet in a sufficiently firm way to assert a partisan difference on the issue.


Unknown said...

me, I'd simply state that I do not want to share a frontier with Iraq. I value calm and tranquility.

Daniel said...

I was once told that the French opposition to Turkish membership is based on the fear of a massive migration of Turks to France. Do you have any thoughts on that?

Unknown said...


I think it's not really about massive migration (anyway, if they went anywhere, they'd go to Germany). It is much more irrational than that. The reality is that the French have an ancestral fear of the "Turc", which goes back to the middle-ages, when sort of pirates would storm ports and cities, take women and ransom them, coming from that general direction (not to mention the Christian crusades and consequences). I am sure Art could muster up a novels and theatre plays reading list, going way back. Anyway, an interesting sideshow to this is the Phenicians _ ie the Lebanese - who have been in the hostage business literally since antiquity. The theory of comparative advantage and trade specialisation appears to apply in this case, notwithstanding Krugman's geo-economic clusters theory...Only joking, of course!