EN EN EUROPEAN COMMISSION Brussels, 9.11.2016 SWD(2016) 366 final COMMISSION STAFF WORKING DOCUMENT Turkey 2016 Report Accompanying the document Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions 2016 Communication on EU Context Turkey remains a key partner for the European Union. Turkey has been linked to the EU by an Association Agreement since 1964 and a customs union was established in 1995. The European Council granted the status of candidate country to Turkey in December 1999 and accession negotiations were opened in October 2005. At the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015, the EU and Turkey decided to reinvigorate and deepen their relations in all key areas of joint interest.
(Değerli okurlar, ilerleme raporunun Türkçesini ilk fırsatta yayımlayacağız. HYETERT)
The EU strongly and immediately condemned the attempted coup of 15 July 2016, which
represented a direct attack on democracy in Turkey, and expressed its solidarity to the Turkish
Given the subsequent scale and collective nature of measures taken since the coup attempt, the
EU called on the authorities to observe the highest standards in respecting the rule of law and
fundamental rights, in line with Turkey's international commitments and status as a candidate
Within the framework of accession negotiations, 16 chapters have been opened so far and one
of these was provisionally closed. The preparatory documents were submitted to the Council
for chapters 15, 26 and 31, without prejudice to Member States' positions in accordance with
the existing rules. Preparatory documents for chapters 23 on judiciary and fundamental rights
and 24 on justice, freedom and security are in the process of being finalised. Turkey can
accelerate the pace of negotiations by advancing in the fulfilment of the benchmarks, meeting
the requirements of the negotiating framework and by respecting its contractual obligations
towards the EU.
The EU and Turkey continued to enhance dialogue and cooperation in the areas of joint
interest, which support and complement the accession negotiations, including with a number of
mutual visits at the highest level. Turkey and the EU enhanced their dialogue on foreign and
security policy, including counter-terrorism, Syria, Libya and Iraq, notably on the occasion of
two High Level Political Dialogues in January and September 2016. The fight against terrorism
was recognised as a priority at the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015 and was also
addressed at the EU-Turkey Counter-Terrorism Dialogue in June 2016, against the background
of several large-scale deadly terrorist attacks by PKK and Da’esh and Turkey stepping up its
involvement in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL/Da'esh.
In this context, the cooperation on migration was stepped up on the basis of a Joint Action Plan
activated at the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015 and following the EU-Turkey
Statement of 18 March 2016, with the aim to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the
EU, in full compliance with EU and international standards. The handling of the massive influx
of mostly Syrian refugees has continued to be a priority issue for the Turkish authorities, with
outstanding efforts to provide shelter to about 3 million refugees from Syria, Iraq and other
countries, by dedicating significant financial resources and by broadening the legislation on
temporary protection and enabling access to the labour market. Significant steps have been
taken to decrease deaths at sea and reduce the numbers of migrants leaving Turkey for Greece.
Turkey accelerated work on fulfilling the benchmarks of the visa liberalisation roadmap. Visa
requirements will be lifted once Turkey meets all benchmarks. The EU's Facility for Refugees
in Turkey became operational in February 2016. Out of EUR 3 billion of the total funding for
This report covers the period from October 2015 to September 2016. It is based on input from a variety of
sources, including contributions from the government of Turkey, the EU Member States, European Parliament
reports and information from various international and non-governmental organisations. As a rule, legislation or
measures which are under preparation or awaiting parliamentary approval have not been taken into account.
2016 and 2017, EUR 2.2 billion have already been allocated for actions in support of refugees
and host communities in Turkey, of which 1.2 billion have been contracted and 677 million
have been disbursed.
Turkey and the EU further developed their cooperation in the areas of energy and economy and
trade, supported by high level dialogues. Both sides advanced their preparations for negotiation
on the modernisation and extension of the Customs Union.
1.2. Summary of the report
A military coup attempt on the night of 15 July left 241 casualties and 2 196 people wounded.
The Turkish government with the support of the entire Turkish political spectrum and society,
succeeded in overcoming the coup attempt. The Turkish Grand National Assembly
symbolically held a special session already on 16 July and adopted a declaration approved by
all parties represented in Parliament. The government attributed the organisation of the coup
attempt to the Gülen movement.
The EU strongly and immediately condemned the attempted coup, which represented a direct
attack on democracy in Turkey as such, and reiterated its full support to the democratic
institutions of the country.
On 20 July a state of emergency was declared across Turkey for three months, further extended
for another three months on 3 October. Significant legislative amendments were introduced by
decree. Turkey notified the Council of Europe of a derogation from its obligation to secure a
number of fundamental rights protected by the European Convention on Human Rights.
Following the coup attempt, very extensive suspensions, dismissals, arrests and detentions took
place over alleged links to the Gülen movement and involvement in the attempted coup. The
measures affected the whole spectrum of society with particular impact on the judiciary, police,
gendarmerie, military, civil service, local authorities, academia, teachers, lawyers, the media
and the business community. Multiple institutions and private companies were shut down, their
assets seized or transferred to public institutions.
In the wake of the post-coup measures, the EU called on the authorities to observe the highest
standards in the rule of law and fundamental rights. While a relationship of trust and loyalty
should exist between civil servants and the state and measures can be taken to ensure that, any
allegation of wrongdoing should be established via transparent procedures in all individual
cases. Individual criminal liability can only be established with full respect for the separation of
powers, the full independence of the judiciary and the right of every individual to a fair trial,
including through effective access to a lawyer. Turkey should ensure that any measure is taken
only to the extent strictly required to the exigencies of the situation and in all cases stands the
test of necessity and proportionality. The measures taken under the state of emergency are
undergoing scrutiny by the Council of Europe. Turkey should urgently address the
recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe of October
With regard to the political criteria, prior to the coup attempt the Parliament engaged in a
heavy legislative agenda in order to implement the ambitious government reform action plan
for 2016 and the legislative requirements of the visa liberalisation roadmap. However, several
key pieces of legislation adopted regarding the rule of law and fundamental rights were not in
line with European standards, such as the law on data protection. Political confrontation
continued to beset the work of the legislative. The adoption in May of a law allowing the
immunity of a large number of deputies to be lifted and the ensuing detentions and arrests of
several HDP Members of Parliament, including the two Co-Chairs, in November is a matter of
The situation in the south-east remained one of the most critical challenges for the country.
Turkey saw a continued very serious deterioration in the security situation, leading to heavy
casualties following the collapse of the Kurdish settlement process in July 2015 and was struck
by several large-scale deadly terrorist attacks by PKK and Da’esh. The authorities pursued their
extensive anti-terror military and security campaign against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party
(PKK), which remains on the EU list of terrorist organisations. Serious allegations of human
rights violations and disproportionate use of force by the security forces in the south-east were
increasingly reported. Many elected representatives and municipal executives in the south-east
were suspended, removed from their duties, or arrested under terrorism-related charges, some
of them on the basis of decrees under the state of emergency following the coup attempt.
However, anti-terror measures need to be proportionate and must respect human rights. The
settlement of the Kurdish issue through a political process is the only way forward;
reconciliation and reconstruction are also becoming key issues for the authorities to address.
Civil society made what efforts it could to remain active and involved in public life.
Independent civil society organisations are rarely involved in law- and policy-making
processes. Some of their representatives, including human rights defenders, have been detained
and there were credible claims of intimidation. A large number of organisations were closed as
part of the post-coup measures taken by the government for alleged links to the Gülen
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of public administration reform with a strong
commitment to an open, responsive administration. However, there has been backsliding in the
area of public service and human resources management in particular in the aftermath of the
coup attempt. The structural impact on the functioning of the civil service of the measures
taken after the coup attempt remains to be assessed.
Turkey’s judicial system is at an early stage/has some level of preparation. There has been
backsliding in the past year, in particular with regard to the independence of the judiciary. The
extensive changes to the structures and composition of high courts are of serious concern and
are not in line with European standards. Judges and prosecutors continued to be removed from
their profession and in some cases were arrested, on allegations of conspiring with the Gülen
movement. This situation worsened further after the July coup attempt, following which one
fifth of the judges and prosecutors were dismissed and saw their assets frozen. The judiciary
must work in an environment allowing it to perform its duties in an independent and impartial
manner, with the executive and legislature fully respecting the separation of powers. Under the
state of emergency, Turkey has further extended for certain offences the pre-trial detention to
30 days without access to a judge against ECtHR case law and an important part of the
judiciary is subject to these measures.
The country has some level of preparation for the fight against corruption. Corruption remains
prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem. The adoption of a new strategy
and anti-corruption action plan is a step forward even if it remains rather limited in scope. The
legal framework continues to suffer from important gaps and the executive’s influence on the
investigation and prosecution of high-profile corruption cases remains a major source of
concern. Corruption perception remains high.
Turkey has achieved some level of preparation in the fight against organised crime.
Institutional capacity was increased and new strategies and action plans were adopted.
However, statistics on the number of final convictions and other important indicators are not
available. Financial investigations remain underused. Precautionary freezing of assets is rarely
applied and the level of assets confiscated is low. In the fight against terrorism, a
comprehensive legal framework on terrorism financing is in place. The anti-terror law is not in
line with the acquis with regard to its scope and definitions and its application raises serious
fundamental rights concerns. Both the criminal and anti-terror legislation should be aligned
with ECtHR case-law, without reducing the capacity of Turkey to fight terrorism. The
proportionality principle must be observed in practice.
The Turkish legal framework includes general guarantees of respect for human and
fundamental rights, which need to be further improved. The enforcement of rights stemming
from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the case-law of the European
Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is not yet ensured. Many allegations of serious violations of
the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and of procedural rights were reported in the
immediate aftermath of the coup attempt. Yet, all measures taken must be in line with the
principles of proportionality and respect for human rights. The new Law on the Human Rights
and Equality Institution of Turkey is a step in the right direction. It contains provisions on
prohibiting discrimination on a large number of grounds, but does not explicitly cover sexual
orientation. There is still a need to adopt a fully comprehensive dedicated law on combating
discrimination. A legal vacuum exists on human rights cases as the new National Human
Rights and Equality institution has not yet been established. The rights of the most vulnerable
groups and of persons belonging to minorities should be sufficiently protected. Gender-based
violence, discrimination, hate speech against minorities, hate crime and violations of human
rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons continue to be a
source of a serious concern.
There has been serious backsliding in the past year in the area of freedom of expression.
Selective and arbitrary application of the law, especially of the provisions on national security
and the fight against terrorism, is having a negative impact on freedom of expression. Ongoing
and new criminal cases against journalists, writers or social media users, withdrawal of
accreditations, high numbers of arrests of journalists as well as closure of numerous media
outlets in the aftermath of the July attempted coup are of serious concern. Freedom of assembly
continues to be overly restricted, in law and practice.
Turkey continued to express support for the talks on the Cyprus settlement between the leaders
of the two communities, and for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser.
Turkey’s commitment and contribution in concrete terms to this comprehensive settlement
remains crucial. However, Turkey has still not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and nondiscriminatory
implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and
has not removed all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct
transport links with Cyprus. There was no progress on normalising bilateral relations with the
Republic of Cyprus. The conclusions on Turkey that were adopted by the Council (General
Affairs and External Relations) on 11 December 2006 and endorsed by the European Council
in December 2006 remain in force. They stipulate that negotiations will not be opened on eight
relating to Turkey’s restrictions regarding the Republic of Cyprus and no chapter will
be provisionally closed until the Commission confirms that Turkey has fully implemented the
Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement.
Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations, international
agreements, and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations
Charter, having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice. In this context, the
EU has expressed once again serious concern and urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or
action directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions that damages good
neighbourly relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes.
Regarding the economic criteria, the Turkish economy is well advanced and can be considered
a functioning market economy. Still, the large external deficit makes the Turkish economy
vulnerable to financial uncertainty, changes in global investors' sentiment and political risks.
The central bank cut interest rates even though inflation remained well above the official target.
The business environment continued to deteriorate due to targeted actions against critical media
and business people and political opponents through the active use of the tax authority, the
Free movement of goods, right of establishment and freedom to provide services, financial services, agriculture
and rural development, fisheries, transport policy, customs union, and external relations.
financial crimes unit and courts. The implementation of structural reforms to improve the
functioning of the markets for goods, services and labour has stalled. Overall, there was
Turkey has a good level of preparation in achieving the capacity to cope with the competitive
pressure and market forces within the EU. Some progress was made in a number of areas, most
notably through further liberalising the energy sector. Significant problems remain as regards
the quality of education. There are also problems of access to education for girls. The lira's real
appreciation has reduced the economy's price competitiveness.
Regarding its ability to assume the obligations of membership, Turkey has continued to align
with the acquis. With the positive exception of the visa liberalisation related work, efforts
continued at a limited pace. Turkey is well advanced in the areas of company law, transEuropean
networks and science and research and it has achieved a good level of preparation in
the areas of free movement of goods, intellectual property law, financial services, enterprise
and industrial policy, consumer and health protection, customs union, external relations and
financial control. Turkey is only moderately prepared on public procurement as important gaps
remain in its alignment. Turkey is also moderately prepared in the area of statistics and
transport policy where further significant efforts are needed across the board. Turkey has only
reached some level of preparation in environment and climate change where more ambitious
and better coordinated policies still need to be established and implemented. In all areas, more
attention needs to be given to enforce legislation whilst many areas require further significant
progress to achieve legislative alignment with the EU acquis.
2. POLITICAL CRITERIA AND ENHANCED POLITICAL DIALOGUE
Attempted coup of 15 July
A military coup attempt began on the evening of 15 July and was aborted the following day,
leaving 241 casualties and 2 196 people wounded. There were heavy clashes in Ankara and
Istanbul with several locations hit by airstrikes, including a direct attack on the Turkish Grand
National Assembly. The coup failed thanks to large parts of the security forces and the army
that remained loyal to the government, backed by hundreds of thousands of civilians who
opposed the rebel soldiers in the streets and squares across the country, following calls from
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The Turkish Grand National Assembly symbolically
convened a special session already in the night from 15 to16 July and adopted a declaration
approved by all parties represented in Parliament. The government attributed the organisation
of the attempted coup to the Gülen movement.
The EU strongly and immediately condemned the attempted coup, which represented a direct
attack on democracy in Turkey as such, and reiterated its full support to the democratic
institutions of the country.
On 20 July a state of emergency was declared across Turkey for three months, further extended
for another three months on 3 October. On 21 July, Turkey notified the Council of Europe of
a derogation from its obligation to secure a number of fundamental rights protected by the
European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), in line with the provisions of Article 15. The
Turkish Constitution however lists inviolable rights that cannot be suspended under the state of
emergency, including the right to life, integrity of corporal and spiritual existence, protection
from retroactive criminal laws, and the presumption of innocence. The state of emergency
allows the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the President to govern by
legislative decree. Ten decrees have been issued so far. They introduced a wide range of
measures including extending the pre-trial detention period to 30 days for a number of
offences, closure and seizure of institutions and media outlets, dismissals in the military and the
civil service for suspected links to the Gülen movement, substantive reorganisation of the
Turkish armed forces, the police, the gendarmerie and the military academies, changes to the
appointment procedure of university rectors, as well as important restrictions to the right of
defence. They introduced amendments to key pieces of legislation which will continue to
produce effects beyond the state of emergency.
In the wake of the post-coup measures, the EU called on the authorities to observe the highest
standards in the rule of law and fundamental rights. While a swift reaction to that imminent
threat against the Turkish state and its democracy was legitimate, the decrees raise questions as
to the proportionality of the measures taken and the access to and effectiveness of judicial
remedies. They also affect key rights under the ECHR, in particular the right to a fair trial, the
right to an effective remedy and the right to protection of property.
Following the attempted coup, very extensive suspensions, dismissals and arrests took place
over alleged links to the Gülen movement and involvement in the attempted coup. There were
reports of serious human rights violations, including alleged widespread ill-treatment and
torture of detainees. The crackdown has continued since and has been broadened to proKurdish
and other opposition voices. The measures affected the whole spectrum of society,
with a particular impact on the judiciary, police, gendarmerie, military, civil service, local
authorities, academia, teachers, lawyers, the media and the business community. Overall, as of
the end of September 2016, some 40 000 people had been detained and more than 31 000
remain under arrest, including 81 journalists. 129 000 public employees remain either
suspended (66 000) or have been dismissed (63 000). Over 4 000 institutions and private
companies were shut down, their assets seized or transferred to public institutions. Additional
10 000 civil servants were dismissed by decrees under the state of emergency at the end of
October and further media outlets closed and journalists detained. Turkey also reached out to
a number EU Member States concerning, for example the closing of schools and other
institutions allegedly linked to the Gülen movement. In this context, there are reports of
members of the Turkish diaspora living in these Member States being under pressure to report
on other members of these communities.
The broad scale and collective nature of these measures raised a number of very serious
questions. There are serious concerns with regard to the vagueness of the criteria applied and
evidence used for determining alleged links to the Gülen movement and establishing individual
liability, applied in a non- transparent and indiscriminate manner, leading to a perception of
'guilt by association'. While a relationship of trust and loyalty should exist between civil
servants and the state and measures can be taken to ensure that, any allegation of wrongdoing
should be established via transparent procedures in all individual cases and ensure the right to
respect for private and family life. It is important that the recently created ad hoc appeal
commission becomes an effective administrative review mechanism for suspended or dismissed
civil servants. Furthermore, any individual criminal liability must be examined with due
process, full respect for the separation of powers and the full independence of the judiciary.
The right of every individual to a fair trial, including through effective access to a lawyer, is
a central element of the rule of law.
The measures taken under the state of emergency are undergoing scrutiny by the Council of
Europe. Turkey should urgently address the recommendations of the Commissioner for Human
Rights of the Council of Europe of October 2016. Turkey should ensure that any measure is
taken only to the extent strictly required to the exigencies of the situation and in all cases stands
the test of necessity and proportionality. Turkey should pay particular attention so as to ensure
in all cases that basic principles governing the rule of law are not set aside, including the full
respect of the presumption of innocence, the individual criminal responsibility, legal certainty,
the right to defence and equality of arms.
Prior to 15 July, the Parliament, elected through repeat elections on 1 November 2015, had
worked on a busy legislative agenda stimulated by an ambitious government reform
programme and the visa liberalisation dialogue. Political confrontation, however, continued to
beset the work of the Parliament. Some key legislation was adopted without proper
consultation. Significant legislative amendments were introduced by decree under the state of
emergency, without prior consultation of Parliament, although some limited form of
consultation of opposition parties was organised. In line with Article 120 of the Constitution,
decrees taken under the state of emergency are sent to Parliament for approval within 30 days.
The establishment of a parliamentary commission that will include representatives of all four
parties and will receive opinions on the decree laws issued during the state of emergency is
being considered. The adoption in May of a law allowing the immunity of a large number of
deputies to be lifted and the ensuing detentions and arrests of several HDP Members of
Parliament, including the two Co-Chairs, in November is a matter of grave concern. There was
no progress in aligning the legal framework on elections and political parties with European
standards. A code of ethics for members of Parliament should be adopted. Comprehensive
reform of Parliament’s rules and procedures needs to be prioritised to improve the
inclusiveness, transparency and quality of law-making and effective oversight of the executive.
In the face of the attempted coup, all parties stood united in its condemnation. More consensual
cross-party work was initiated on that occasion between AKP and opposition parties, except
HDP, which led to a consensus, in the framework of a dedicated commission, on a number of
constitutional changes, particularly on restructuring judicial bodies.
The Parliament elected on 1 November 2015 engaged in a heavy legislative agenda in order to
implement the ambitious government reform action plan for 2016 and the legislative
requirements of the visa liberalisation roadmap, re-energised following the EU-Turkey summit
on 29 November 2015. However, several key pieces of legislation which were adopted
regarding the rule of law and fundamental rights were not in line with European standards, e.g.
the law on data protection.
The constitutional reform process put on hold in December 2013 was revived in February
2016. However, the discussions in Parliament’s Conciliation Committee, established with the
participation of the four political groups represented in Parliament, soon collapsed due to
a stalemate on a possible shift to a presidential system of governance proposed by the ruling
party. In the aftermath of the attempted coup, a commission set up by AKP and opposition
parties CHP and MHP, with the exception of HDP, came to a consensus on a number of
constitutional changes, particularly on restructuring judicial bodies. These changes are yet to be
Parliament’s ability to perform its key functions of law-making and oversight of the
executive continued until 15 July to be affected by political confrontation. Legislation was
often prepared and adopted without sufficient debate in Parliament and without consultation
with stakeholders. Following the declaration of the state of emergency and its extension,
Parliament's role in the law-making process was limited. The influence of the Committees on
Human Rights Inquiry and on EU Harmonisation remained limited even on draft laws with a
significant impact on fundamental freedoms. There was no progress on reforming
parliamentary rules and procedures. Media accreditation and the rules for inviting stakeholders
to committee meetings continue to be applied selectively.
Parliamentary oversight of the executive remained weak. There was insufficient follow-up by
the executive whenever Parliament uses instruments such as parliamentary questions and
committees of inquiry. The work and reports of committees of inquiry received good media
coverage; however, Parliament failed to set up committees of inquiry on some critical
developments, including the rapid deterioration of the security situation. In the absence of
a specialised committee with sufficient technical expertise to deal with reports from the Court
of Accounts there was no improvement in parliamentary oversight of public spending.
The Turkish Grand National Assembly was severely damaged by airstrikes during the
attempted coup on the night of 15 July. On 16 July all political parties represented in
Parliament issued a joint declaration, unanimously condemning the attempt to overthrow the
democratically elected institutions. The setting-up of a special parliamentary commission,
agreed by all parties, to probe the coup attempt of 15 July is an important step towards
thorough investigation of these tragic events. Meetings between the President, Prime Minister
and opposition party leaders, with the noticeable exception of HDP, initially raised hopes that
party politics could become more consensual. Cross-party dialogue should include all parties
represented in Parliament. The 20 July declaration of the state of emergency led to significant
legislative amendments being adopted by decree without prior consultation of Parliament,
although some limited form of consultation of opposition parties was organised. In line with
Article 120 of the Constitution, decrees taken under the state of emergency are sent to
Parliament for approval within 30 days. The establishment of a parliamentary commission that
will include representatives of all four parties and will receive opinions on the decree laws to be
issued during the state of emergency is being considered. The main opposition party CHP has
appealed to the Constitutional Court concerning the relevance of some of the issued decree
laws to the necessities of the state of emergency.
There was no progress in aligning the legal framework on elections and political parties with
European standards. The 10 % threshold for parties to be represented in Parliament is still in
place. There were no further improvements to the rules on the closure of political parties
following the 2010 constitutional amendments. Funding for political parties and election
campaigns remains to be addressed in line with the recommendations of the Council of
Europe's Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). Following the general elections in
November 2015, four parties obtained a representation in parliament. 82 women members were
elected in the 550-seat Parliament. A law aiming at comprehensive ethical regulations for
members of Parliament, such as declarations of assets and rules on conflict of interest, has yet
to be adopted. Measures are required to ensure that parliamentary immunity is not used as a
means to hinder criminal investigations against members of Parliament suspected of corruption
or other misconduct. The system of parliamentary immunity should specify objective criteria
for taking decisions on lifting immunity. On 20 May, Parliament adopted an amendment to the
Constitution providing for a one-off lifting of the immunity of a large number of members of
Parliament who had requests for prosecution pending against them. This piece of legislation,
introduced by the ruling AKP, affected MPs from all parties but was widely seen as directed
more particularly against the HDP as more than 350 cases were brought against 50 of its MPs.
Individual members of Parliament unsuccessfully challenged the amendment in the
Constitutional Court. Its implementation was put on hold after the attempted coup, except for
cases involving the HDP. On 4 November, several Members of Parliament from the HDP,
including the party's two Co-Chairs, were detained and/or arrested on charges alleging support
for terrorist activities.
A restrictive interpretation of guarantees provided for by the Constitution and shortcomings in
the anti-terror legislation continue to pose a direct risk to the freedom of expression of
members of Parliament. Freedom of expression of members of Parliament is an essential part of
democracy and should be protected also when they speak outside Parliament.
The President continued to be actively engaged in key domestic and foreign policy issues. In
May, a new government was appointed. The debate on a possible shift to a presidential system
of governance increased and had an impact on the political agenda. The deteriorating security
situation in the south-east and the continued fight against the Gülen movement, particularly
after 15 July, dominated the work of the government.
President Erdoğan continued to be actively engaged in key domestic and foreign policy issues.
He frequently convened the Council of Ministers to map out the government’s line, most
notably on a new Constitution, the fight against terror and the alleged influence of the Gülen
movement over the state structures. The President's central role was further reinforced in the
aftermath of the attempted coup of 15 July, as the power to govern by decree was given under
the state of emergency to the Council of Ministers under the chairmanship of the President. In
addition, he convened several meetings of the National Security Council.
In May, following the resignation of Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, a new government
under the leadership of Mr Binali Yıldırm was appointed. The government maintained
continuity in key policy areas, including on the EU accession process. The security situation
remained the principal challenge for the two successive governments. Turkey was severely hit
by several terrorist attacks with numerous casualties among civilians and security forces. The
security situation in the south-east gravely deteriorated. Both governments announced special
plans for improving the socioeconomic situation of the south-east. A sustained political
solution to the Kurdish issue is urgently needed (see Situation in the east and south-east).
Both the Davutoğlu and Yıldırm governments continued to tackle the alleged influence of the
Gülen movement over the state structures and society. Judicial investigations targeting alleged
members of this organisation expanded significantly even before 15 July and peaked
exponentially following the attempted coup attributed to the Gülen movement. In May, the
President and the government announced that the Gülen movement was formally included in
the list of terrorist organisations kept but not disclosed by the National Security Council. The
events of 15 July led to the arrest, suspension or dismissal of tens of thousands of individuals
allegedly linked to the Gülen movement. Any allegation of wrongdoing needs to be examined
with due process, transparent procedures, and the right of every individual to a fair trial or
equitable administrative process should be safeguarded.
With regard to local government, many elected representatives and municipal executives in
the south-east were detained or arrested under terrorism-related charges, some of them
following the coup attempt. It will be crucial that citizens of the municipalities concerned will
be represented again by local officials elected in accordance with Turkish law. Fiscal
decentralisation remained limited despite the 2012 amendment to the Law on Metropolitan
Municipalities, which redrew municipal boundaries and extended the scope of the
municipalities’ responsibilities. Municipalities need the necessary financial resources to carry
out the responsibilities transferred to them.
The track record of the activities of the Ombudsman is positive with a total case-load of 22
648 applications until end August 2016, for which 21 546 decisions were taken. The public
administration’s follow-up to his recommendations increased steadily. However, in the absence
of powers to initiate investigations and to intervene in cases with legal remedies, the
Ombudsman remained silent on certain human rights concerns, most notably on human rights
violations in the east and south-east. The limited powers of the Ombudsman reduce the
effectiveness of his potential contribution to the fields of human rights and good governance.
The legal framework insufficiently protects Turkey’s eight independent regulatory authorities
from undue political interference. Their work needs to become more transparent.
Civil society remained active and involved in public life under difficult circumstances. Human
rights defenders were subject to intimidation and detentions. A large number of organisations
were closed as part of the post-coup measures taken by the government. Systematic and
inclusive mechanisms for consulting civil society, notably on new legislation, need to be put in
place and consistently used. The legal, financial and administrative environment needs to be
more conducive to the development of civil society.
An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be
recognised and treated as such by the state institutions. Civil society organisations (CSOs)
made what efforts they could to remain active and involved in public life. The EU-Turkey civil
society dialogue programmes have now involved 1 774 Turkish CSOs together with their
counterparts in the EU. These programmes contribute to the development of civil society and
enable greater recognition of CSOs at local level. However, there is no overall government
strategy in place for cooperation with civil society. In the absence of formal arrangements for
their participation, independent civil society organisations are rarely involved in law- and
Human rights defenders were subject to several ongoing court cases, new investigations and
intimidation through public statements of high-level officials. The investigation into the killing
in November 2015 of human rights defender and chairperson of the Diyarbakır Bar
Association, Mr Tahir Elçi, has not progressed. On 21 July a large number of CSOs were
closed following the attempted coup. Restrictions on freedom of assembly remained a problem.
Systemic difficulties, such as restrictions on registration and procedures for the authorisation
and functioning of associations, have continued. A number of CSOs have seen their regular
operations challenged through closure cases, penalties, restrictions or discriminatory practices.
Current legislation, including taxation law, is not conducive to encouraging private donations to
non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Civil society remains financially vulnerable and
dependent on public project grants. At the same time, public funding has not been sufficiently
Civilian oversight of the security forces
The Turkish government with the support of the entire Turkish political spectrum and society,
succeeded in overcoming a military coup in July. In addition to measures taken in the aftermath
of the attempted coup against those suspected of participation to the coup, including high
numbers of dismissals and arrests, the legal framework for civilian-military relations underwent
significant changes. In a positive development, the powers of civilian institutions over the
military expanded decisively, thereby strengthening civilian oversight over the military.
However, the amendments to the law on the personnel of the Turkish armed forces raise
concern as they give extensive legal protection to the personnel with counter-terrorism duties.
The military and intelligence services continue to lack sufficient accountability in Parliament.
A part of the military, including a number of high ranking officers, engaged in the 15 July coup
attempt which was eventually defeated, after one night of heavy fighting, thanks to a majority
of security and armed forces that had remained loyal to the government. The huge mobilisation
of civilians across the country to resist the coup attempt and act as civilian guardians was proof
of a major shift across Turkish society which massively rejected this attempt by parts of the
military to seize power.
The legal framework for civilian-military relations underwent significant changes in the
aftermath of the attempted coup. The third decree of 31 July following the declaration of the
state of emergency introduced considerable changes to the organisational and educational
structure of the Turkish armed forces. The force commanders were attached to the Ministry of
National Defence and the civilian executive was granted the power to give orders to top
commanders without observing the chain of command. In addition, the decree also introduced
changes to the composition of the Higher Military Council (YAŞ). The Prime Minister’s
deputies and the ministers of justice, foreign affairs and interior were made members of the
YAŞ. This increased the number of civilian members to ten, while the number of military
members fell from 12 to four.
Serious allegations of human rights violations and disproportionate use of force by the security
forces in the south-east were increasingly and credibly reported. The track record of judicial
and administrative examination in these cases remains poor. The Law on Provincial
Administrations was referred to as the basis for imposing long-lasting, open-ended curfews and
involving the armed forces in domestic security operations with limited civilian oversight. A
law-enforcement oversight commission was set up in May but lacks independence from the
executive and powers to launch its own investigations.
Parliamentary, administrative and judicial oversight and accountability of security and
intelligence forces remains inadequate. The requirement that the Prime Minister and Minister
of Interior authorise any prosecution of the Chief of the General Staff or force commanders for
offences committed while on duty remains in effect. The amendments to the law on the
personnel of the Turkish armed forces adopted in June expand the armed forces’ legal and
operational responsibility for command of domestic security operations and provide shelter
from prosecution for armed forces personnel involved in counter-terrorism operations. This
raises concerns about the reduced judicial and administrative oversight of military personnel.
The parliamentary security and intelligence committee continued to have a very limited
oversight mandate. The legal framework for overseeing military expenditure has yet to be
improved. Access to audit reports by the Turkish Court of Accounts on the security, defence
and intelligence agencies remains restricted. Parliament was not involved in the adoption under
the state of emergency of decrees that introduced significant changes to the military.
2.2. Public administration reform
Turkey is moderately prepared with the reform of its public administration. There has been
backsliding in the area of public service, and human resources management in particular, in the
aftermath of the coup attempt. The use of regulatory impact assessments is now better regulated
following the adoption of a new regulation. However, implementation still needs to be
improved. Otherwise there has been little follow-up to the Commission’s recommendations of
2015. There is still no comprehensive reform strategy and political ownership. The continued
politicisation of the administration and the low level of female representation in the higher
echelons of bureaucracy, despite a slight increase in 2016, continue to be of serious concern.
The structural impact of the measures taken in the aftermath of the attempted coup attempt of
15 July on the functioning of the civil service remains to be assessed; as of end of October,
139 000 public employees had been either suspended (76 000) or dismissed (63 000), including
in the education sector and academia. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ ensure that any allegation of wrongdoing is examined with due process, transparent
procedures and safeguard the right of every individual to a fair trial or equitable administrative
→ prepare changes to its legislation to introduce merit-based, competitive recruitment for the
senior managerial positions of the civil service;
→ start to systematically conduct impact assessments for planning documents and legislative
proposals, in line with the revised legal framework.
Policy development and coordination
Turkey has a coherent policy-making system. Policy coordination among central government
institutions is generally strong, whereas annual planning and monitoring of whole-ofgovernment
performance has been lacking so far. Limited progress was made on reform, as the
government only developed its first annual reform action plan in December 2015. A monitoring
mechanism headed by a deputy prime minister was established and quarterly implementation
reports were published. A website (www.reformlar.gov.tr) was launched to enable the public to
monitor progress on reform. However, the planning process can be further improved, with more
participation of stakeholders, to ensure that objectives are better formulated and targets are
properly quantified. Lack of systematic link between policy and fiscal planning jeopardises the
implementation of strategies, reform programmes and legislation.
Concerning European integration-related issues, the Ministry for EU Affairs, together with EU
departments in relevant ministries, has set up a well-functioning system to steer alignment with
the acquis. However, legislation and policy formulation do not systematically result from
inclusive and evidence-based policy development process, even for acquis alignment.
Despite legal requirements, draft policies and laws are often not subject to public
consultations. The legal requirement to produce medium-term cost estimates and fiscal impact
assessments for draft policies and laws is not systematically respected. Regulatory impact
assessments are often not sent to Parliament or published. A new by-law was adopted in March
to ensure that regulatory impact assessments are carried out systematically by all public
institutions. Its implementation remains to be assessed.
In the absence of effective parliamentary scrutiny by specialised legislative committees, the
recent steps taken by the government to improve policy planning and monitoring of the
government’s performance should be complemented with ex post results-oriented reports
enabling better public scrutiny of government work.
Public financial management
Turkey is continuing with reforms in various public finance areas, but there is no overarching
public financial management reform programme that would ensure a holistic approach. The
medium-term programme for 2016-2018 includes provisions to improve public finances, but it
does not provide any baselines, targets or indicators to measure progress. The annual budget is
prepared as part of the medium-term budget framework. Overall, fiscal discipline is ensured
despite the absence of an independent fiscal council.
Budget transparency needs to be further addressed at various levels. While annual budgets are
published and annual reports on budget implementation are produced, their structure does not
allow comparison with or analysis against the original budget. In-year reporting is insufficient
and needs to be improved. Transparency of public investment programmes and state assets is
weak. Participation by civil society in the budgetary process is poor. Revolving funds have
been a specific cause of concern, as they are not included in the annual budget or in the
Treasury single account. The medium-term programme 2016-2018 includes provisions to
ensure an open, transparent and accountable administrative and fiscal environment.
Public service and human resources management
The Law on Civil Servants defines public service in a way that is extremely broad, including
different categories of public servants such as contractual civil servants, temporary staff and
other workers who do not fall under the same legislation. Women are slightly better represented
in the public service than before, at 37.1 % in 2016 compared with 36.5 % in 2015. However,
the percentage of women in senior managerial positions was only 10.4 % in July 2016
compared with 9.7 % in 2015. Progress has been made in employing disabled staff (rising from
40 655 in 2015 to 43 151 in 2016), but is still short of the 3 % quota.
The civil service legal framework does not fully guarantee neutrality, continuity or meritbased
recruitment and promotion procedures, although the law requires a centralised
examination. The first phase of external recruitment for entry-level positions is based on merit,
whereas the oral interview phase remains poorly regulated and thus is open to political
patronage. In addition, the large scale conversion of temporary contracts into permanent civil
servants positions circumvents the merit principle. Access to top civil service positions is not
always merit-based, and appointments are not subject to competition.
Whereas the legal framework guarantees uniform criteria for demotion, dismissals and
disciplinary measures, with provision for appeal, there has been a continuously high annual
turnover in managerial positions with 28.6 % in 2015, 52.7 % in 2014 and 8.2 % in 2013. The
conditions and structural impact of the large-scale dismissals and suspensions that followed the
15 July coup attempt are a source of serious concern. By end-October, over 76 000 public
employees remained suspended and about 63 000 had been dismissed, including in the
education and health sectors. Turkey has a total number of 3.4 million public employees. In
September, an administrative review mechanism was set up under the Prime Ministry to review
the applications of the dismissed and suspended civil servants; it already received 70 000
individual claims. Its functioning remains to be evaluated. Transparent procedures and due
process need to be applied and any allegation of wrongdoing needs to be evidenced on an
individual basis. Turnover of staff in the administration will also need to follow transparent
procedures in order to safeguard the principle of neutrality of the state apparatus. Allegations of
entry exams having been rigged by the Gülen movement to secure an increased presence of
staff under its influence in the civil service should also be investigated.
The State Personnel Presidency, reporting to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, has
the central coordination responsibility for human resources management (HRM). Human
Resources units are in place in various services, but apply different policies and approaches.
The State Personnel Presidency lacks the necessary coordination and monitoring capacity to
ensure implementation of modern HRM policy and standards. The lack of a modern HRM
information system, which would provide real-time data for the entire public service, is another
obstacle to an efficient HRM system. The civil service remuneration system is not fully
transparent. Training strategies and plans are in place to ensure professional development.
Integrity in public service is boosted by ethics committees and an ethics board, set up in the
Prime Ministry, but there are no integrity plans in place.
Accountability of the administration
The state administration is organised in a hierarchical and rational way, ensuring appropriate
lines of accountability. Public administration agencies are supervised by parent ministries,
which in turn report to the Council of Ministers. State institutions are required to submit annual
accountability reports on the use of resources to achieve targets, but the Council of Ministers
does not ensure systematic follow-up to these reports. Some institutions have a culture of
managerial accountability and delegation of responsibilities (see chapter 32).
The citizens’ right to good administration is ensured through relevant internal and external
oversight arrangements, but they need to be better protected. The role of oversight institutions
such as the Ombudsman remained limited in the absence of ex officio powers (see
Governance). Right to access public information is regulated by the law on the right to
information. The law allows for broad exemptions on grounds of protecting state secrets,
commercial secrets and personal data. No centralised independent body oversees
implementation. Easy online access led to more than 2 million applications a year for access to
information both in 2015 and 2016. The percentage of requests refused remained small,
approximately 3.7 % up to June 2016 compared with 3 % in 2015. In line with provisions in the
Constitution, the right to administrative justice and the right to seek compensation in cases
of wrongdoing are protected. Implementation is ensured by administrative, tax and regional
administrative courts and the Council of State. The courts are considered to be efficient, but
there is no evidence of how these rights are upheld in practice, as there is no institution
responsible for collecting the relevant data.
Service delivery to citizens and businesses
Strong commitment to a user-oriented administration has led to the expansion of egovernment
services and provision of smart identity documents. Significant progress has been
achieved in e-government. The number of registered users exceeded 27.5 million (up from 25.2
million in 2015). The number of services provided through the e-government gateway has
almost doubled in the last two years. Public services are accessible to a great extent. Ambitious
e-government strategy and action plan for 2016-2019 were adopted in July 2016 aiming at
further developing such e-services across Turkey. However, access for disabled citizens to
services including public buildings remained low. Further expansion of one-stop-shops and
points of single contact for citizens, particularly at local level, is needed.
Uniform public services are being delivered to a great extent, and the institutions publicise the
standards of public services within their own legal remit. User satisfaction surveys, however,
are not regularly used, and there is no institution responsible for overall promotion or
measurement of the quality of public services. Work on simplifying administrative
procedures and cutting red tape is hindered by the lack of a law on general administrative
procedures to give citizens and businesses greater legal certainty. The legal framework is
fragmented, as administrative procedures are covered in a variety of sectorial laws.
Strategic framework for public administration reform
Turkey has no overarching strategy or planning document dedicated exclusively to public
administration reform. Although there are various planning documents and sub-strategies
relating to some aspects of Public Administration Reform, the lack of political support and of
administrative ownership hinders a comprehensive approach. There is no cross-cutting system
for monitoring and reporting on the various related planning documents, which are not
centralised. The department for strengthening the administration, in the Prime Ministry, has a
legal mandate but lacks the necessary capacity to coordinate design, implementation and
monitoring. The financial sustainability of overall public administration reform is not
guaranteed, as the key planning documents do not specify the expected costs.
2.3. Rule of law
Functioning of the judiciary
Turkey’s judicial system has reached an early stage/some level of preparation. There has
been backsliding in the past year, in particular with regard to the independence of the judiciary
which represents a significant challenge to the overall functioning of the judiciary. The
extensive changes to the structures and composition of high courts are of serious concern as
they threaten the independence of the judiciary and are not in line with European standards.
Judges and prosecutors continued to be removed from their profession and in some cases were
arrested, on allegations of conspiring with the Gülen movement. The situation worsened further
after the July coup attempt, following which one fifth of the judges and prosecutors were
dismissed and saw their assets frozen. There was no progress on the outstanding issues
identified in previous reports and the recommendations made last year can therefore largely be
→ create a political and legal environment that allows the judiciary to perform its duties in an
independent and impartial manner, strengthen its responsibilities, with the executive and
legislature fully respecting the separation of powers;
→ limit the role and influence of executive power within the High Council of Judges and
Prosecutors and provide sufficient guarantees against transfers of judges against their will;
→ introduce further safeguards against any interference by the High Council of Judges and
Prosecutors in judicial proceedings.
→ limit any suspension of a judge, as a major infringement of guaranteed judicial
independence under the Constitution, to cases of well-founded suspicion of serious
misbehaviours; ensure that the system of disciplinary proceedings is guided by objective
criteria without undue influence from the executive power;
→ with regard particularly to the measures taken against suspected persons following the
attempted coup, ensure that any allegation of wrongdoing or crime is subject to due process
based on evidence and fully transparent procedures under the authority of an independent
judiciary and in full respect of fundamental rights, including procedural rights, notably as
regards the respect of the presumption of innocence, individual criminal responsibility, legal
certainty, the right to defence, the right to a fair trial, equality of arms and right to an appeal.
Turkey is implementing a Judicial Reform Strategy covering the period 2015-2019. The
Strategy Development Department of the Ministry of Justice acts as the central monitoring
body and secretariat for implementation of the judicial reform strategy in close cooperation
with the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK) and the Judicial Academy.
The HSYK is the key institution managing the judiciary. The Council is independent in
managing a budget of EUR 18.5 million. There was no progress in solving the persistent
problem of the influence of the executive over the HSYK, in particular following the legislative
changes of 2014 strengthening the powers of the Minister of Justice within the HSYK and the
subsequent staff changes in the HSYK. As ex officio members, the Minister of Justice, acting as
President of the Council, and his undersecretary continue to have substantial influence over the
work of the HSYK. The HSYK is therefore widely perceived to be the executive’s main means
of controlling the judiciary. More transparency in the HSYK’s work and strict adherence to
procedures are needed to strengthen not only the Council’s credibility but also public trust in
Following the coup attempt, the general assembly of the HSYK excluded five of its judge
members (out of 22 members), who then faced prosecution.
Independence and impartiality
Judicial independence and impartiality are enshrined both in the Constitution and in legislation.
Nevertheless, in practice, there are numerous reports on selective justice and political
interference in court cases. There are serious concerns about direct interference by the
executive in cases (e.g. through public comments) which continue to undermine the credibility
of the judiciary as a whole. The application of the principle of immovability of judges remains
highly problematic. Transfers of judges and prosecutors against their will were frequent and
were not open to judicial review. A number of disciplinary and criminal cases against judges
and prosecutors have not seen due process, being sometimes solely based on the indictments
and rulings pronounced by these same judges and prosecutors in the exercise of their functions.
This contradicts basic principles of the rule of law and considerably undermines trust in the
judiciary and its independence.
The law changing the structure and composition of the Court of Cassation (CoC) and the
Council of State (CoS) as adopted in July also raised serious concerns as to it impact on the
independence of the judiciary. Frequent changes to the internal organisation of judicial bodies
and to the court network, in particular the criminal court system, are creating legal uncertainty.
Comments by representatives of the executive and the legislative branches on ongoing judicial
cases, challenging among others decisions taken by the Constitutional Court, have continued as
a regular practice. In the days and weeks following the attempted coup, 3 508, i.e. one fifth of
the total number of judges and prosecutors were suspended by HSYK and 3 390 subsequently
dismissed. 2 386 judges and prosecutors have been detained: 2 229 of first instance, 109 from
Court of Cassation, 41 from Council of State, two members of the Constitutional Court, and
five members of the HSYK. Following the coup attempt, a large number of new judges were
appointed only within two weeks. The magnitude and rapidity of the measures taken raise
questions on criteria applied. These large-scale dismissals as well as large-scale recruitments of
new judges and prosecutors raise a serious challenge to the performance and independence of
While all lawyers have to abide by the rules set by the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, there
is no code of ethics for judges and prosecutors. Integrity training is part of the curriculum for
initial training but neither a criterion in the initial selection and nomination process, nor for
appointments to senior positions. Disciplinary proceedings are initiated and decisions on
disciplinary and ethical matters are taken by the HSYK Inspection Board. Official statistics
put the number of judges and prosecutors dismissed following the above procedure at 12 in
2013, 4 in 2014, 9 in 2015 and 13 in 2016, prior to the July coup attempt. The disciplinary
system is perceived as a tool to exclude certain judges and prosecutors for political reasons.
The declaration of assets is obligatory for all high court judges, including members of the
HSYK, but not for prosecutors.
Professionalism and competence
Candidate judges and prosecutors are recruited for pre-service training by means of a written
examination and an oral interview. The HSYK does not play any role in this process. The
interview is conducted by a board of seven members: five senior officials from the Ministry of
Justice and two from the Justice Academy. The formal appointment and transfer of judges and
prosecutors are exercised by the HSYK. The HSYK is also responsible for evaluating the
performance and for promoting judges and prosecutors. Assessment criteria for promotion are
published in the Official Gazette. The dismissal of a judge or prosecutor requires a decision by
the HSYK, which is subject to judicial review. In the reporting period, the HSYK has been
criticised for a lack of consistency in applying the dismissal procedure.
The authority leading and taking decisions on the recruitment and careers of judges should
be independent from the executive and the legislative powers. Such decisions should always be
grounded on objective, merit-based, uniform and pre-established criteria.
Following the mass dismissals of judges and prosecutors in the aftermath of the attempted
coup, the appointment of new recruits in large numbers within two weeks has raised concerns
about the selection procedure and their professional quality.
Quality of justice
The Justice Academy is responsible for pre-service and in-service training of candidate judges
and prosecutors. Since the February 2014 legislative changes, the President of the Academy
and deputies have been appointed by the executive, which is threatening the independence of
the Judicial Academy. The human and financial resources of the judiciary seem proportionate
to the challenges it faces.
While mediation and various other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are in place, they
are scarcely used. Overall, the quality of judicial decisions has improved in recent years.
However, the weak reasoning and poor quality of some indictments — without appropriate
selection and assessment of supporting evidence — remain a serious problem for the criminal
justice system, in particular in terrorism-related cases.
Courts all over the country normally have modern information and communication technology
equipment. In all courts, an electronic case allocation system is in place as part of the national
judicial network project, UYAP. This system offers lawyers and parties protected access to
important information about judicial proceedings, and is used for statistical reporting. However,
courts do not publish regular activity reports.
In general, the Turkish judicial system has enough capacity to handle its caseload. The
establishment of the Court of Appeals from 20 July 2016 will contribute to ensuring the
consistency of case-law and help reduce the backlog of the Court of Cassation. The length of
proceedings has been a long-standing issue. The backlog of civil, criminal and administrative
cases, which had been reduced in 2012, increased again markedly in the following years and
more particularly in 2016. The judicial network is complex and, while there are enough support
staff, there is no human resources management strategy.
Fight against corruption
The country has some level of preparation for the fight against corruption. Some progress has
been achieved in the past year. Corruption remains prevalent in many areas and continues to be
a serious problem. The adoption of a new strategy and anti-corruption action plan is a step
forward even if it remains rather limited in scope. The legal framework continues to suffer from
important gaps and the executive’s influence on the investigation and prosecution of highprofile
corruption cases remained a major source of concern.
Corruption perception remains high. A broad political consensus, strong political will and
a long-term strategic vision are required to start tackling corruption properly. In addition to
addressing the shortcomings outlined below, in the coming year the country should in
→ establish a functionally independent anti-corruption body, in line with the United Nation’s
→ ensure an effective follow-up to the recommendations issued by the Council of Europe's
Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), including by adopting the necessary legislation;
→ ensure full independence of prosecution and law enforcement bodies, particularly those in
charge of high-level corruption investigations.
Turkey’s track record of investigation, prosecution and conviction in high-level corruption
cases remained poor. A number of investigations of cases of corruption involving public
officials, e.g. in local administration, public construction, health and the higher education
sectors, resulted in their conviction. Control and inspection units continue to send small
numbers of potential corruption cases to the prosecution service. Public procurement, land
administration, energy, construction and transportation, including when implemented via
public-private partnerships, remain particularly vulnerable to corruption.
Political influence on judges and prosecutors and law enforcement officers continued to raise
serious concerns. This was demonstrated on a number of occasions by the removal and
suspension or subsequent prosecution of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officers who
had led high-profile corruption cases implicating political figures.
Financial investigations are not required in cases of corruption and organised crime. A new
regulation adopted in April further strengthened the legal framework for freezing and
confiscating alleged criminal assets providing for a precautionary freezing mechanism under
certain conditions. The level of detection and investigation of foreign bribery offences
remained limited. With few exceptions, such as in the case of tender-rigging often handled with
deferred pronouncement of sentences, the sentences handed down are a deterrent.
The track record of control of the financing of political parties and electoral campaigns
demonstrates very low system effectiveness. Constitutional Court decisions on external
financial audits are seriously delayed. During the last five years, no major political party has
been referred to the Public Prosecutor on grounds of breaching the party financing provisions
of the Law on Political Parties.
Despite repeated political commitments, no new legislation revising the system of asset
declaration and disclosure has been adopted. The existing system has been ineffective due to its
limited scope, control mechanisms and measures preventing disclosure. As regards conflicts of
interest, the most common breaches include misuse of discretionary powers, favouritism in
personnel recruitment, extravagance in spending public funds, financing gifts and reimbursing
personal expenses from public funds. Whistle-blowing remained rare given the inadequate
protection offered by the current legislation.
For the prevention of corruption, there is still no permanent, functionally independent anticorruption
body. The lack of a body in charge of fighting corruption, and inadequate
coordination of the various institutions, are major impediments to policy effectiveness. The
Prime Ministry Inspection Board coordinates preventive anti-corruption measures, but it is not
independent and has no independent investigation powers. The Prime Ministry
Communications Centre (BIMER) is the main body in charge of reporting on corruption and
maladministration. Anti-corruption awareness-raising campaigns have not been conducted on a
regular basis. There is no comprehensive policy in place to prevent corruption in the private
As regards law enforcement and prosecution, the country still lacks a specialised prosecution
service to lead anti-corruption investigations. There are also few specialist courts. The current
legal framework compromises the independence of the HSYK and officers acting as judicial
police and prevents them from carrying out effective investigations. An information-sharing
system between the police and the Financial Intelligence Unit exists and electronic access to
databases for the relevant agencies is at a moderately prepared level.
Although passive and active bribery are defined in the criminal code, the definition of active
bribery is still not in line with the international conventions to which Turkey has acceded or
with GRECO recommendations. With few exceptions, sentences do have a deterrent effect.
The legislation on the financing of political parties is weak as Turkey has not yet implemented
all GRECO’s recommendations on the transparency of party funding, a benchmark of the visa
liberalisation roadmap. The 2015 elections took place in a legal and institutional context in
which individual party and independent candidates’ campaigns were not subject to any
The many exceptions inserted in the initial public procurement law have left public tenders
extremely vulnerable and prone to corruption. Amendments to the Turkish criminal code in
2013 reduced the penalties imposed on tender-rigging to a level that is no longer proportionate
to the potential damage to the public interest. Currently, suspects convicted of tender-rigging
charges can take advantage of deferred judgments.
The anti-corruption legislation contains largely inadequate provisions on prevention,
prosecution and sanctioning of conflicts of interest as well as the declaration, verification and
disclosure of assets. Existing penalties are not deterrent for these offences and enforcement
remains weak. The country has no legislation governing lobbying. Turkey’s anti-corruption
legislation would benefit from comprehensive and in depth scrutiny to identify and address
Most of the measures enshrined in the anti-corruption strategy and action plan for 2010-2014
were not implemented. An updated action plan for increasing transparency and strengthening
the fight against corruption was adopted in April but is limited in scope.
Fight against organised crime
Turkey has achieved some level of preparation in the fight against organised crime. Some
progress has been made over the past year to increase institutional capacity and adopt new
strategies and action plans in the field.
However, statistics on the number of final convictions and other important indicators are not
available. Financial investigations remain underused. Precautionary freezing of assets is rarely
applied and the level of assets confiscated is low. In the coming year, Turkey should in
→ revise and implement data protection legislation in line with European standards to create
the conditions for efficient and effective international police and judicial cooperation, including
with Europol and Eurojust;
→ take measures to improve its track record, in particular by dismantling criminal networks
and confiscating criminal assets;
→ collect and use appropriate aggregate statistics to facilitate threat assessment, policy
development and implementation.
Turkey further developed its track record of final convictions in cases related to organised
crime. However, the track record on anti-money laundering measures remained insufficient.
Financial investigations are still only conducted at the discretion of the prosecution service;
there is no policy of systematically running financial investigations, only provision for specific
cases in the criminal procedure law. The prosecution service is requesting more financial
investigations in money laundering and terrorism financing cases. Precautionary seizure of
assets in the initial phase of the investigation is being used.
Institutional and operational capacity
Prior to the July attempted coup Turkey had 271 564 police and 166 002 gendarmerie officers
(including conscripts). In the aftermath of the attempted coup, more than 18 000 police and
gendarmerie officers have been suspended and more than 11 500 have been dismissed, while
over 9 000 remain detained. Initial and in-service training is provided by the police academy.
However, the academy’s capacity to provide specialised training is limited.
There is a move towards further specialisation in law enforcement agencies. For example, new
departments for the fight against drugs, migrant smuggling and human trafficking have been set
up. Specialisation and effectiveness need to be further developed through training and staff
retention in the relevant units. In terms of equipment, law enforcement bodies generally have
appropriate modern vehicles, radio communication systems, software, hardware, and premises.
Most databases are in place, though they are not always interconnected.
Cooperation on the ground between law enforcement bodies needs to be built up further, in
particular between the police and the gendarmerie. Courts need greater specialisation in
organised crime cases.
There is no operational cooperation agreement with Europol as the data protection legislation
is not yet in line with European standards. However, Turkey has a strategic agreement with
Europol, in force since July 2004. In March 2016, Turkey signed an agreement with Europol on
the appointment of a Turkish liaison officer in The Hague, who was subsequently seconded to
Europol from May until September 2016. A new Liaison Officer has been selected and will
start in November 2016 (see also chapter 24 - Justice, freedom and security).
Turkey has a Law on Witness Protection, and witness protection units have been established
in 81 provinces under the national police and the gendarmerie’s General Command. The
legislation contains some important flaws that still need to be addressed to ensure a more
effective witness protection policy.
In the fight against cybercrime, Turkey set up a 24/7 contact point under the national police.
The Internet Law, which allows the Telecommunications Presidency to remove or block access
to content without a court order, remains a matter of concern (see also chapter 23 — Judiciary
and fundamental rights).
A financial intelligence unit is in place under the Financial Crimes Investigation Board
(MASAK). The number of suspicious transactions analysed by the board has been rising every
year. MASAK and law enforcement services continued to work in coordination with access to
certain databases. Information on suspicious transactions is used to help improve threat
assessments and the development of national policies and strategies. The board has increased
the number of investigation staff and is upgrading its IT infrastructure.
The criminal code is to a large extent in line with the acquis and covers a range of specific
types of crimes. However, some arrangements are necessary in relation to special investigation
methods, including the timeline and detailed arrangements for their use. The investigative
powers of the border police and customs remain very limited and highly dependent on the
police. Some improvements need to be made to the legislation on cybercrime and witness
protection. Rules on third-party confiscation, on extended confiscation and on precautionary
freezing of assets need to be aligned.
The legislation to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism is largely in line with
the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. The law on the confiscation of
criminal assets is partially aligned with the acquis. Alignment with the acquis is still required
as regards criminal law directives covering various forms of serious and organised crime,
including on the confiscation of criminal assets and asset management.
Turkey is providing input to the serious and organised crime threat assessment (SOCTA),
although it has not yet adopted Europol’s reporting methodology. It also has a new strategy for
combating organised crime (2016-2021) and an action plan (2016-2018).
Turkey is implementing a number of sectoral strategies and action plans, such as the drugs
national strategy and action plan for 2016-2018, which entered into force in April. A national
cybersecurity strategy and action plan (2016-2019) were adopted in February.
A comprehensive multidisciplinary and victim-oriented approach to human trafficking remains
to be developed.
Fight against terrorism
Turkey was struck by several large-scale deadly terrorist attacks attributed to PKK and Da’esh
in the reporting period. The EU condemns all acts of terrorist violence and deplores the
casualties that these attacks have caused. Turkey has a legitimate right to defend itself against
such terrorist violence, but the measures taken need to be proportionate (see Situation in the
east and south-east). In its efforts to fight terrorism, Turkey has been giving priority to the
PKK, particularly following a severe surge of violence in the country since July 2015. The
PKK remains on the EU's list of terrorist organisations. Turkey has addressed the terrorist
threat from Da’esh more vigorously. It joined the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL/Da'esh in
September 2014. Following the terrorist attacks by Da’esh, Turkey strengthened its
engagement with the coalition and launched several air strikes and ground operation "Euphrates
Shield" against Da’esh positions in Syria. It also maintained an agreement with the United
States of America on the use of the Incirlik base for the coalition forces. Turkey has been
seriously affected by the phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters transiting through the country
and is a source of terrorist fighters. It has improved its means of combating the financing of
terrorism. Turkey’s active counter-terrorism cooperation with the EU has continued with the
latest counter-terrorism dialogue being held in June, where particular attention was paid to the
issue of foreign terrorist fighters. The phenomenon of foreign terrorist fighters needs
a dedicated approach by the intelligence and law enforcement community and a consistent
judicial policy. Turkey should pursue its efforts to effectively prevent and counter
radicalisation. This needs to be done in close cooperation with religious leaders and
communities, social workers, the education system and youth organisations.
2.4. Human rights and the protection of minorities
The Turkish legal framework includes general guarantees of respect for human and
fundamental rights, which need to be further improved. The enforcement of rights stemming
from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the case-law of the European
Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) is not yet fully ensured. Turkey has taken some positive steps
to address systemic problems by adopting an action plan on prevention of ECHR violations in
2014. However, its general approach and lack of any robust monitoring mechanism seriously
hinder its implementation and impact. The legislative scope of the action plan needs to be
widened to cover all rights and relevant ECtHR case-law. Monitoring of its implementation
should be also improved.
Last year’s recommendations still need to be addressed. There has been serious backsliding in
the past year in the area of freedom of expression. Respect for human rights also deteriorated in
the east and south-east in the context of the fight against terrorism and this continues to be a
matter of serious concern. Turkey has a legitimate right to fight terrorism but it needs to ensure
that anti-terror measures are proportionate, that it respects all human rights and that it fulfils its
international obligations. Enforcement of rights is hindered by the fragmentation, limited
independence and limited human and financial resources of public institutions responsible for
human rights and by limited awareness among their staff of some fundamental rights and
freedoms. Independent civil society organisations are rarely involved in law- and policymaking
Following the coup attempt of 15 July, a state of emergency was declared on 20 July across
Turkey for three months and extended for another three months on 3 October under which
measures curtailing fundamental rights were taken, including in regards to pre-trial detention
and freedom of expression. Turkey notified the Council of Europe of its temporary suspension
of the ECHR, in line with its Article 15 derogation provision. The Turkish Constitution
however lists inviolable rights that cannot be suspended under the state of emergency,
including the right to life, integrity of corporal and spiritual existence, protection from
retroactive criminal laws, and the presumption of innocence. Many allegations of serious
violations of the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment and of procedural rights were reported
in the immediate aftermath of the attempted coup of 15 July. The prohibition of torture and illtreatment
and procedural rights of suspected and accused persons need to be fully observed in
law and in practice, in line with the country’s international obligations, in particular the
European Convention of Human Rights.
Turkey should urgently address the recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights
of the Council of Europe of October 2016 and ensure that any measure is taken only to the
extent strictly required to the exigencies of the situation and in all cases stands the test of
necessity and proportionality.
Shortcomings particularly affect the following areas:
• In addition to issues in the area of freedom of expression exposed further below, concerns
remain regarding the full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. There are also
insufficient measures to fight against impunity.
• Freedom of assembly continues to be overly restricted, in law and practice, in particular
through disproportionate use of force in policing demonstrations and a lack of sanctions and
investigations of law enforcement officers.
• Non-discrimination is still not sufficiently enforced, in law or in practice. The rights of the
most vulnerable groups and of persons belonging to minorities should be sufficiently protected.
Gender-based violence, discrimination, hate speech against minorities, hate crime and
violations of human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons
continue to be a source of a serious concern.
• The anti-terror law and its implementation are not in line with the acquis. The criminal and
anti-terror legislation and their interpretation should be aligned with ECtHR case-law, without
reducing the capacity of Turkey to fight terrorism. The proportionality principle must be
observed in practice.
• There are strong concerns about the suspension of key procedural rights under the state of
emergency. It is essential that any allegation of wrongdoing or crime is subject to due process
based on evidence and fully transparent procedures under the authority of an independent
judiciary and in full respect of fundamental rights, including procedural rights, notably as
regards the respect of the presumption of innocence, individual criminal responsibility, legal
certainty, the right to defence, the right to a fair trial, equality of arms and right to an appeal.
For a detailed analysis of developments on other human rights and the protection of minorities,
see chapter 23 — Judiciary and fundamental rights. For developments in the areas of trade
union rights, non-discrimination and equal opportunities, see also chapter 19 — Social policy
Freedom of expression
The country is at an early stage in the area of freedom of expression, the media and the
internet. In the past year, serious backsliding continued and gave rise to growing concern. Last
year’s recommendations were not followed and can therefore be restated. Legislation and
practice do not comply with ECtHR case-law. Freedom of expression has come under serious
strain. Ongoing and new criminal cases against journalists, writers or social media users,
withdrawal of accreditations as well as closure of or appointment of trustees to numerous media
outlets are of serious concern. Selective and arbitrary application of the law, especially
provisions on national security and the fight against terrorism, is having a negative impact on
freedom of expression. The Internet Law and the general legal framework continue to enable
the executive to block content without a court order on an unduly wide range of grounds.
The high number of arrests of journalists in the aftermath of the July attempted coup is of
serious concern. Any alleged wrongdoing or crime should be subject to due process, and
respect of the principle of presumption of innocence should be guaranteed.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ refrain from undue restrictions on freedom of expression, including in relation to antiterrorism
operations, in line with the Guidelines of the Committee of Ministers of the Council
of Europe on protecting freedom of expression and information in times of crisis;
→ act against and refrain from the practice exercised in various forms by both state and nonstate
agents of intimidating, interfering with and putting pressure on the media;
→ ensure that criminal law provisions, in particular articles on defamation and other similar
offences, are not used as a means of putting pressure on critical voices, by ensuring that courts
apply ECtHR case-law;
→ ensure that existing legislation, especially the anti-terror law, criminal code, the Internet
Law are revised to comply with European standards and are implemented in a manner which
does not curtail freedom of expression and ensures proportionality and equality before the law.
Intimidation of journalists
A high number of arrests, hearings, detentions, prosecutions, censorship cases and layoffs
occurred, as the Government kept the media under heavy pressure. An increasing number of
international journalists were deported or refused entry to the country. Frequent threats and
various types of intimidation from state and non-state agents against journalists and media
outlets continue to be a serious concern. Investigative journalists face charges for reporting on
the activities of law enforcement agencies or intelligence services. A number of physical
attacks on media outlets and journalists took place and no major progress was made on
identifying perpetrators related to old cases of killings and assaults on journalists, including
from the 1990s. The closure of media outlets and the appointment of trustees to control media
groups, leading to a change in editorial policy, restrict pluralism and the right of citizens to be
informed and intimidate other media outlets. Prior to the 15 July coup attempt, there were 36
journalists in prison, many of whom were charged with crimes under the anti-terrorism law. In
the aftermath of the coup attempt, by the end of October, some 90 journalists were arrested
bringing the total to more than 130. Decrees taken under the state of emergency also brought
the closure of some 170 media outlets.
The trend of prosecutions of journalists, writers, social media users and other citizens, even
juveniles, for insulting the President of Republic continued. Such cases often end with prison
sentences, suspended sentences or punitive fines. This restrictive and intimidating environment
leads to increased self-censorship and is not in line with the emerging European consensus on
decriminalising defamation of heads of state or limiting this offence to the most serious forms
of verbal attacks while restricting the range of sanctions to exclude imprisonment. On
a positive note, in the aftermath of the coup attempt, the President and the Prime Minister have
announced that they dropped a large number of cases brought for insulting them, but not those
brought against HDP members.
The current legal framework and practice do not guarantee the exercise of freedom of
expression, of the media and the internet. The Constitution permits restrictions to freedom of
expression and a number of laws are not in line with European standards.
The legislative provisions on anti-terrorism, the Internet Law and the Law on the National
Intelligence Agency severely impede freedom of expression. Provisions in these laws that run
counter to European standards, ECtHR case-law and the recommendations of relevant
international institutions should be revoked. The recommendations of the Venice Commission
should be implemented.
The wide powers granted to the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB) to
block or remove internet content, upon the request by the government, continue to raise
concerns. The judicial control for requests relating to content takedowns or blocking content is
within the remit of the individual decision of Criminal Judges of Peace. Political influence on
the judiciary and communication authorities to implement restrictive blocking of websites or
take down content should be prevented in practice.
The lack of clear procedures for accreditation and their uneven application continued to be a
problem. Under the criminal code, prosecution for insulting high-level politicians, including
the President, and insulting religion and blasphemy are criminal offences carrying prison
sentences. In addition to prison terms, high fines have a deterrent effect on media reporting.
The legislation on hate speech is not in line with ECtHR case-law. Neither the law on the
registration and accreditation of journalists nor the law on access to information are fully in line
with international standards.
Media blackouts of information considered sensitive, including reporting on terrorist attacks,
are a recurrent trend. Criminal legislation on defamation against the state, its institutions,
employees or other symbols of statehood is extensively used against journalists, lawyers and
users of social media critical of the government. Application of this provision should be limited
to statements inciting violence and hatred. The recurring practice of taking down content and
blocking links to social media sites has increased exponentially in recent years and should be
curtailed. Monitoring by civil society organisations indicate that as of June close to 111 786
websites have been banned, of which only 2.6 % following a court decision. Twitter also lists
Turkey as the by far leading country in the world in terms of request for removal of accounts or
content, with more than 3 200 requests received in 2015.
Public service broadcasters
Regarding the regulatory framework, while the work of the Radio and Television Supreme
Council (RTÜK) is fairly transparent, with decisions being published together with the
supporting expert reports, there are concerns about its independence and neutrality. Members
are elected by Parliament without the involvement of civil society or professional
organisations. Regulation of the public service broadcaster is not in line with European
standards. The editorial policy of the public service broadcaster, the Turkish Radio and
Television Corporation (TRT), displays a significant pro-government line. Changes to the
election procedure for members of the RTÜK and Telecommunications Communication
Presidency would minimise the risk of political pressure and improve the perception of
The lack of transparency of media ownership casts doubt on the independence of editorial
policies. A small number of media groups dominate the media market. They often belong or
remain affiliated to businesses with interests in energy, construction, real estate, trade, finance
and tourism. Media outlets are vulnerable to economic pressure from major customers,
including the state.
The takeover of media outlets and the appointment of trustees to control media groups has a
negative economic impact with loss of hundreds of jobs. A decree taken under the state of
emergency also brought the closure of a large number of media outlets.
State-sponsored advertising is not fairly and transparently distributed. This distorts the market
and adds to the economic pressure on some media outlets. Independent and sustainable
financing of the public service broadcaster is not ensured. The broadcasting law does not
ensure fair competition as it does not prevent monopolisation.
Professional organisations, professional conditions
The representation of journalists continues to be divided between the professional journalists’
associations and the pro-government union. Journalism is an increasingly precarious profession
with low wages, the risk of judicial harassment and lack of job security. Working conditions,
insufficient trade union rights and application of labour legislation, the difficulty of obtaining a
press card and arbitrary accreditation decisions remain major concerns. Some foreign news
correspondents have not been granted an extension of their press accreditation.
Situation in the east and south-east
The situation in the south-east remained one of the most critical challenges for the country.
Following the collapse of the Kurdish settlement process in July 2015, the south-east saw a
further serious deterioration of the security situation, leading to heavy casualties, large-scale
internal displacement and extensive material devastation. Government anti-terror operations,
reinforced by extended blanket curfews, were conducted across urban centres against an
insurgency led by the PKK and PKK-affiliated groups. War-like conditions prevailed in some
provinces. Systematic serious violations of human rights were extensively reported. The scale
of internal displacement from curfew zones and lack of access to basic services in those areas
are also sources of major concern. The rapid deterioration in the security environment has
taken its toll on the local economy. The government also used post-coup measures to suspend
many municipal counsellors and mayors and teachers and to close a number of Kurdishlanguage
media outlets. In November, several HDP Members of Parliament, including the
two Co-Chairs, were detained and/or arrested on charges alleging support for terrorist
activities. The settlement of the Kurdish issue through a political process is the only way
forward; reconciliation and reconstruction are also becoming key issues for the authorities to
The situation in the region in the reporting period was marked by further escalation of violence
by the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and PKK-affiliated groups. The PKK remains
on the EU list of terrorist organisations. The government continued extensive security and
military operations against the PKK, including air strikes on their bases in both Turkey and
Iraq. The PKK responded partly by expanding the conflict to the cities of western Turkey,
committing large-scale deadly terrorist acts in Ankara and Istanbul. The EU firmly condemned
these terrorist acts. The government has a legitimate right to act against terrorism but is
responsible for ensuring that this fight fully respects human rights, fundamental freedoms and
obligations under international law.
The Government pledged to continue security operations, dismissing any prospect of
a resumption of the talks with the PKK, unless the terrorists surrendered arms and pulled the
militants out of Turkey’s territory. Long-lasting, round-the-clock curfews were imposed in
several cities; these severely disrupted citizens’ daily lives and impeded access to healthcare
and education. Most of these curfews have now been lifted, but they were followed by others.
Between July 2015 and September 2016, over 1 500 people – of which 320 civilians, including
75 children and over 600 security force members – have been killed and 1 600 were injured in
clashes between the security forces and the PKK.
There were many credible reports of alleged severe human rights violations committed by the
security forces, including torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests and breaches of procedural
rights. Legislation regulating the burial of dead bodies of unidentified persons, which was
amended twice in the reporting period, reportedly prevented proper forensic examinations
needed for thorough judicial investigations. There were alarming reports of damage to cultural,
historical and religious heritage sites during the curfews, including in the Sur district in
Diyarbakır. Disproportionate destruction of private and communal property and infrastructure
by heavy military artillery, as in Cizre, is a cause for serious concern. An estimated 355 000
people have been internally displaced. The expropriation of Sur District in March for the
purpose of reconstruction further raised tensions in the city. Lack of official information or
follow-up on all allegations of human rights violations is extremely worrying (See also chapter
23). All allegations of human rights violations need to be duly investigated, their perpetrators
brought to justice and redress made available to victims.
The effect of the curfews and alleged severe human rights violations were denounced by UN
Committee Against Torture (CAT) and the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of
Europe following his visit to the region. Unimpeded access to the region by independent
investigators is urgently needed. The Venice Commission found that the declarations of curfew
were not in line with the Constitution or with Turkey’s international commitments and
recommended review of the relevant legislation. A petition for a temporary injunction on
frequent days-long curfews was rejected by the ECtHR due to insufficient data. The
Constitutional Court rejected an application for a similar injunction. The judgement by ECtHR
on the substantive application regarding curfews is pending. Many civil society initiatives and
petitions called for a resumption of the Kurdish settlement process. A declaration of protest
signed by more than a thousand academics was severely supressed by the authorities and led to
numerous arrests, dismissals and trials. In the aftermath of the attempted coup, a large number
of Kurdish teachers have been suspended over alleged links to terrorism. 33 mayors were
suspended over alleged terrorist ties or links to the Gülen movement, including the co-mayors
of Diyarbakır who were subsequently arrested. Trustees were assigned to these municipalities
by decree issued under the state of emergency. The Democratic Regions Party DBP, party
governing in most of these municipalities, applied to the Constitutional Court to annul the
appointment of trustees in 24 cases. Out of 39 Kurdish-language television and radio stations,
23 were closed on charges of spreading terrorist propaganda.
No comprehensive plan was developed to address the issue of missing persons, including
thorough and independent investigations into alleged past cases of extrajudicial killing by
security and law enforcement officers or by the PKK. The recommendations of the UN Special
Rapporteur about lack of prosecutions over extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions were
not addressed. Mass graves were not adequately investigated. In February, the Constitutional
Court concluded the case on the 2011 killing of 34 civilians by the military at Uludere/Roboski
and rejected the application of families of victims on grounds that the missing documents were
not submitted in time. Victims' families subsequently sent an application to the ECtHR. The
statute of limitations for cases of missing persons and extrajudicial killings dating from the
1990s remained in force.
A 10-point action plan for the south-east announced in February by the then Prime Minister has
not been implemented. In September Prime Minister Yildirim announced an investment
package to reconstruct the provinces damaged by the fights, and to reduce the growing
disparities with the rest of the country. Comprehensive rehabilitation of the region is urgently
needed. In addition to the huge influx of refugees from Syria and Iraq, the newly displaced
population has put local communities under tremendous strain.
Refugees and internally displaced persons
The handling of the massive influx of mostly Syrian refugees has become a priority issue for
the Turkish authorities. Turkey continued to make outstanding efforts to provide shelter to
about 3 million refugees from Syria and Iraq and other countries. Around 10 % of the refugees
are living in camps with all necessary services provided.
In January, the Turkish authorities adopted a regulation on work permits for foreigners under
temporary protection, allowing Syrians to be employed legally in Turkey under certain
conditions. Turkey has also adopted a regulation on work permits for people applying for
international protection and those in receipt of international protection. It paves the way to
improving the livelihoods of the Syrian refugees and their prospects of integration. Syrian
refugees are reported to be often employed informally without social rights and under harsh
working conditions. There have been unconfirmed reports of alleged expulsion, return and
deportation of Syrian nationals contrary to the non-refoulement principle.
There were formerly around one million internally displaced persons (IDPs), most of whom
fled their homes between 1986 and 1995 due to the armed conflict in the south-east. The
process of compensating IDPs continued but there is a need for an overall assessment of the
process. In addition, the number of new IDPs as a result of the ongoing security operations in
the south-east is officially estimated at 355 000. There is an urgent need to fully compensate the
affected IDPs. The situation of persons who became IDPs in Diyarbakır’s Sur district, after
several neighbourhoods were demolished and expropriated by the government, needs to be
addressed urgently. There is an urgent need for a comprehensive national action plan and
strategy to address all the challenges faced by IDPs, such as security zones, village guards and
a lack of infrastructure. The presence of landmines in some areas hampers the return of IDPs to
2.5. Regional issues and international obligations
Turkey continued to express support for the talks on a comprehensive settlement between the
leaders of the two communities, and for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General’s Special
However, in March and August Turkey made statements challenging the right of the Republic
of Cyprus to exploit hydrocarbon resources in the Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone for the
benefit of all Cypriots. The EU has repeatedly stressed the sovereign rights of EU Member
States, which include inter alia entering into bilateral agreements and exploring and exploiting
their natural resources in accordance with the EU acquis and international law, including the
UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The EU has also stressed the need to respect the
sovereignty of Member States over their territorial sea and airspace.
As emphasised in the Negotiating Framework and Council declarations, Turkey is expected to
actively support the negotiations on a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus
issue within the UN framework, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council
resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. Turkey’s commitment
and contribution in concrete terms to this comprehensive settlement remains crucial. The
process of granting the Committee on Missing Persons full access to all relevant archives and
military areas has seen welcome developments but needs to be further expedited. Despite
repeated calls by the Council and the Commission, Turkey has still not complied with its
obligations as outlined in the declaration of the European Community and its Member States of
21 September 2005 and in Council conclusions, including those of December 2006 and
December 2015. Turkey has not fulfilled its obligation to ensure full and non-discriminatory
implementation of the Additional Protocol to the Association Agreement and has not removed
all obstacles to the free movement of goods, including restrictions on direct transport links with
the Republic of Cyprus. There was no progress on normalising bilateral relations with the
Republic of Cyprus.
Turkey continued to veto applications by the Republic of Cyprus to join several international
organisations such as the OECD.
Peaceful settlement of border disputes
Bilateral exploratory talks were held between Greece and Turkey to find common ground for
the start of negotiations on the delimitation of the continental shelf.
Greece continued to object to Turkey’s launch of a tender for offshore oil and gas exploration
including part of the continental shelf off the Greek island of Castellorizo.
The threat of casus belli in relation to the possible extension of Greek territorial waters, as
made in a Turkish Grand National Assembly resolution in 1995, still stands. In line with the
Negotiating Framework and previous European Council and Council conclusions, the Council
has reiterated that Turkey needs to commit itself unequivocally to good neighbourly relations
and to the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with the United Nations Charter,
having recourse, if necessary, to the International Court of Justice. In this context, the EU has
again expressed serious concern, and urged Turkey to avoid any kind of threat or action
directed against a Member State, or source of friction or actions that damage good neighbourly
relations and the peaceful settlement of disputes. Greece and Cyprus made formal complaints
about repeated and increased violations of their territorial waters and airspace by Turkey,
including flights over Greek islands.
Good neighbourly relations form an essential part of Turkey’s process of moving towards the
EU. Bilateral relations with other enlargement countries and neighbouring EU Member
States have been good. Cooperation with Greece and with Bulgaria in the area of migration
intensified. The fourth Turkey-Greece High Level Cooperation Council was held in Turkey in
March 2016. Turkey has continued its policy of engagement in the Western Balkans. Turkey
maintained strong ties with countries in the region and supported their respective efforts to join
NATO and the EU. Relations continued positively with Albania and a readmission agreement
was signed with Kosovo*
in December 2015. Contacts with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia
developed positively, including in the framework of the trilateral cooperation between Turkey,
Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Under the common security and defence policy, Turkey is
continuing to contribute to the EU-led military mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina and to the
EULEX rule of law mission in Kosovo.
3. ECONOMIC CRITERIA
Key economic figures 2014 2015
Gross domestic product per capita (% of EU28 in PPS) 53 53
GDP growth (%) 3.0 4.0
Unemployment rate for persons aged 15 years and
older (female; male) (%) 9.9 (11.9; 9.0) 10.4 (12.6; 9.2)
Economic activity rate for persons aged 20–64:
proportion of the population aged 20–64 that is
economically active (%)
Current account balance (% of GDP) -5.5 -4.5
Net foreign direct investment (FDI) (% of GDP) 1.6 2.4
Source: Eurostat, National Statistics Agency
In line with the conclusions of the European Council in Copenhagen in June 1993, EU
accession requires the existence of a functioning market economy and the capacity to cope with
competitive pressure and market forces within the Union.
The monitoring of these economic criteria should also be seen in the context of the central
importance of economic governance in the enlargement process. Each enlargement country
prepares an Economic Reform Programme (ERP) annually, which sets out a medium-term
macro-fiscal policy framework and a structural reform agenda aimed at ensuring
competitiveness and inclusive growth. The ERPs are the basis for country-specific policy
This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ
Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
guidance jointly prepared by the EU and the Western Balkans and Turkey at ministerial level in
May each year.
3.1. The existence of a functioning market economy
The Turkish economy is well advanced and can be considered a functioning market
economy. Public finances are on a sustainable course. Economic growth strengthened last
year, but is slowing again in 2016 while unemployment remains relatively high. The current
account deficit has narrowed mainly as a result of the lower oil price. Nevertheless, the
external deficit remains large and makes the Turkish economy vulnerable to financial
uncertainty, changes in global investors' sentiment and political risks. The central bank cut
interest rates even though inflation remained well above the official target. The business
environment continued to deteriorate due to targeted actions against critical media, business
people and political opponents through the active use of the tax authority, the financial
crimes unit and courts. The implementation of structural reforms to improve the functioning
of the markets for goods, services and labour has stalled. Overall, there was backsliding.
In line with the ERP recommendations and in order to support long-term growth, in the
coming years Turkey should pay particular attention to:
→ promoting domestic saving, including through a sufficiently restrictive fiscal policy, in
view of the persistently large current account deficit;
→ making monetary policy more focused on the pursuit of price stability;
→ improving the business environment by strengthening the rule of law, making it easier to
start a business and strengthening competition.
Turkey has a functioning market economy, but the resolve to address underlying
macroeconomic imbalances has been uneven. The recommendations from 12 May 2015 were
only partially implemented. The government´s Economic Reform Programme for 2016-2018
projects an overly optimistic macroeconomic scenario in which GDP growth strengthens while
unemployment, inflation and the current account deficit decrease. The establishment of a
Deputy PM post to oversee structural reforms was a positive development as it has the potential
to improve the coordination of economic policy-making between government bodies. At the
same time, targeted government actions against critical media, business people and political
opponents through the active use of the tax authority, the financial crimes unit and courts, have
had negative effects on the business climate. Uncertainty over the central bank’s independence
in carrying out monetary policy continued to the detriment of macroeconomic stability.
Figure 1 Turkey GDP growth
The Turkish economy has grown
at an average annual rate of
3.7 % over the past three years.
GDP growth increased gradually in
2015, with growth rates moving up
from 2.5 % year-on-year in the first
quarter to 5.7 % in the last quarter
of the year. The annual GDP
growth of 4.0 % was solely driven
by domestic demand, particularly
based on accelerating household
consumption and public spending.
Private investments remained
relatively weak, while the
contribution of net exports was
negative. In 2016, GDP growth has slowed to 3.1 % year-on-year in the second quarter as net
exports continued to deteriorate and private investment activity weakened. The decline in
foreign tourist visits (32 % year-on-year in the first eight months) has weighed heavily on
economic activity in the third quarter. GDP per capita based on purchasing power parity
remained unchanged in 2015 at 53 % of the EU average.
Effects of the failed coup attempt on the overall economic situation are still difficult to assess.
After an initial sell-off, Turkish financial markets recovered, although not quite to the levels
before 15 July. Industrial production and retail sales dropped sharply in July and some survey
indicators declined. Restoring and maintaining investor confidence will in any case require the
rule of law and independence of the judiciary to be respected.
Turkey’s current account deficit has narrowed significantly, but remains relatively high.
The deficit has declined from 7.7 % of GDP in 2013 to 4.5 % in 2015 as the lower oil price has
reduced the energy import bill and the notoriously volatile gold trade has swung from deficit to
surplus. The underlying deficit, however, has not improved. Excluding energy and gold, the
current account actually deteriorated by 1.5 percentage points of GDP between 2014 and 2015.
The external deficit reflects a persistent shortfall of domestic saving requiring
compensating inflows of foreign capital. Most capital inflows tend to be portfolio
investments by foreign investors and foreign borrowing by Turkish banks. Foreign direct
investment (FDI) has represented a relatively small proportion of the required capital inflow
since the global financial crisis. In 2015, however, FDI covered 36.5 % of the current account
deficit as a result of a number of large foreign investments in the financial sector. The
dependence on volatile types of capital inflows makes the Turkish currency and economy
vulnerable to a sudden loss of investor confidence. Gross external debt as a percentage of GDP
has edged higher, reaching 58.0 % of GDP at the end of March 2016, most of which is owed by
the private business sector. A particular concern relates to the foreign currency debt of private
companies that receive most of their revenues in domestic currency: when the lira depreciates,
their ability to service their foreign debt deteriorates.
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
% of GDP
GDP per capita in purchasing power standards, EU28=100 (RHS)
GDP growth (LHS)
Inflation has remained in high single digits. This has significant costs in terms of
macroeconomic stability, resource allocation and redistributive effects. In spite of the oil
price decline, consumer price inflation increased from 8.2 % to 8.8 % year-on-year during
2015. Over the first nine months of 2016, inflation fell in the context of only modestly rising
food prices and a relatively stable exchange rate. Headline inflation stood at 7.3 % in
September which is still clearly above the official target of 5 %. The Turkish lira's bilateral
exchange value against the euro increased marginally (1.0 %) between the end of September
2015 and the end of September 2016.
The central bank has eased monetary policy and continued to pursue multiple objectives
as part of an overly complex monetary policy framework. Although price stability is the
primary objective, the central
bank is also pursuing macrofinancial
stability and trying
to dampen exchange rate
fluctuations. The central bank
has kept the main policy rate
(the one-week repo rate)
unchanged at 7.5 % since
February 2015, but has
gradually lowered the
overnight lending rate from
10.75 % to 8.25 % between
March and September
2016. As a result, the
average cost of funding
has declined significantly
in the reporting period.
This easing of monetary
policy is inconsistent with
the inflation target.
It has taken place against
the background of
repeated strong calls for
lower interest rates from
the President and parts of
Monetary policy should
focus more on its primary
objective of price stability in order to attain the official inflation target. Furthermore, a
simplification of the monetary policy framework would improve its transparency and
predictability and strengthen the central bank's credibility.
On public finances, the budget deficit remained moderate and public debt continued on a
sustainable path. The 2015 central government budget deficit is estimated at 1.2 % of GDP,
which is marginally lower than in the preceding year (1.3 %) but slightly higher than originally
planned (1.1 %). Revenues increased by 13.6 % year-on-year while expenditures rose by 12.8
%, both exceeding nominal GDP growth (11.7 %). General government debt increased by
9.8 % in absolute terms in 2015, but declined by 0.6 percentage points as a percentage of GDP
to 32.9 %, i.e. it is clearly at a sustainable level. In a wider macroeconomic perspective,
however, the fiscal policy stance has not appropriately addressed Turkey's persistent external
imbalance in recent years. Public finances have an important role to play in raising overall
ERP policy guidance: Reinforce the central bank's focus on
price stability in monetary policy by further tightening the
policy stance against the backdrop of high (above-target)
inflation rates and increasingly unanchored inflation
expectations. A simplification of the monetary policy
framework in line with the central bank's own forward
guidance, published in August 2015, would help to buttress
the credibility of the inflation targeting framework in place.
Using the main policy rate, rather than a range of other
instruments, in the conduct of monetary policy would be more
transparent and strengthen the central bank's credibility in
fighting inflation in the medium term.
Figure 2 Turkey fiscal developments
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
% of GDP
% of GDP
Public debt (LHS) Budget deficit (RHS)
domestic saving and reducing the need for capital inflows through an appropriately tight fiscal
There was no progress on increasing the
transparency of the fiscal framework,
which continued to suffer from the lack of
timely information in accordance with
international standards. Adopting a fiscal
rule would increase credibility and support
the envisaged reduction of the structural
Overall, the Turkish economy remains
vulnerable to bouts of financial
uncertainty and changes in global risk
sentiment and there is scope for adjusting
monetary and fiscal policy to lower the macroeconomic imbalances. The persistence of a
large current account deficit and the associated dependence on capital inflows makes Turkey
prone to boom-bust cycles. The recent easing of monetary policy has been inconsistent with the
official inflation target. Considering the continued overshooting of the inflation target and the
chronically low private saving rate, monetary policy is too accommodative. Furthermore, fiscal
policy should help to increase domestic saving by pursuing a sufficiently restrictive course.
Functioning of product markets
Starting a business has become more cumbersome and remains expensive. It now required
8 separate procedures and took 7.5 days on average, up from 7 procedures and 6.5 days in
2014. The average cost of starting a business remained virtually unchanged in 2015 at 16.6 %
of per capita income. On the positive side, obtaining a construction permit became significantly
faster in 2015, but is still very burdensome. In 2015, the number of newly established
businesses increased by 15.2 %.
Market exit also remained costly and has become even longer while insolvency
proceedings were still heavy and inefficient. Closing a business has become significantly
more time-consuming and has remained expensive. Insolvency procedures lasted an average of
4.5 years and recovery rates fell further to the very low level of 18.7 % on average. The number
of businesses closing down or being liquidated fell by 13.4 % in 2015 compared with 2014.
The overall business environment continued to deteriorate due to targeted actions against
critical media, business people and political opponents through the active use of the tax
authority, the financial crimes unit and courts. In actions largely perceived to be politically
motivated, the government has acquired active control of several media assets (Bugün,
Kanaltürk, Zaman), companies (Koza-İpek group), private university preparation courses and
universities (Haliç) by appointing trustees in their management. It also seized one bank (Bank
Following the failed coup attempt of 15 July
and under the state of emergency rule, this
type of state intervention has become more
widespread. Several private companies,
private foundations and universities were
seized on the basis of alleged links with the Gülen movement. Allegations of wrongdoings by
individual companies need to be subject to due process with respect for the separation of
powers and the independence of the judiciary. Abstaining from politically motivated
ERP policy guidance: Promote domestic
saving in view of the persistently large current
account deficit. Fiscal policy has an important
role to play in this regard by following a
sufficiently restrictive stance. Reducing the
rigidity of public expenditures would help to
make the fiscal policy stance more responsive
to macroeconomic needs. The adoption of a
fiscal rule would enhance budget transparency,
provide an important fiscal anchor and enhance
ERP policy guidance: Strengthen the rule of
law and the judiciary with a view to restoring
expropriation of private assets by court decisions, including independent media, would help
restore investors' confidence.
A reasonably well-functioning legal system has been in place for several years in the area of
property rights. Enforcement of commercial contracts was still a rather lengthy process, but the
introduction of an electronic filing system for court users made enforcing contracts easier. Outof-court
dispute settlement systems have been operational already in banking, insurance and
customs. Additional arbitration mechanisms have spread to other areas rapidly, particularly on
employee-employer disputes. The number of cases referred to arbitration bureaus increased
from 200 in 2014 to 1,160 in 2015 and reached 1,040 in the first quarter of 2016. The judicial
system and its administrative capacity could be further improved.
State influence on product markets
The government continued to intervene in the price-setting mechanism in key sectors. The
proportion of directly administered prices in the consumer price index (CPI) basket has
remained below 5%. However, food and alcohol prices, which together make up more than
25% of the consumer basket, continued to be highly sensitive to policy decisions. For energy
(natural gas and electricity), automatic pricing mechanisms were applied in principle. In
practice, however, the government continued to set end-user prices, effectively suspending the
automatic pricing mechanisms. There was no progress on eliminating the charging of higher
prices to one group of consumers in order to subsidise lower prices for another group in the
wholesale and retail electricity markets.
There was no progress in improving the transparency of state aid. Legislation to implement
the State Aid Law, originally scheduled to be passed into law by September 2011, has been
postponed for yet another year until the end of 2016. The State Aid Authority has still not
formally set up a comprehensive state aid inventory or adopted an action plan to align all state
aid schemes, including the 2012 incentives package, with the acquis. (See also chapter 8.)
Privatisation and restructuring
Privatisation slowed down again. Following the surge in 2013, privatisation activity
continued to decelerate in 2015, with the total volume of completed deals decreasing from EUR
4.8 billion (0.8 % of GDP) in 2014 to EUR 1.8 billion (0.3 % of GDP) in 2015. The share of
the energy sector in privatisation tenders remained high. Competition could benefit from
continued liberalisation in the markets for goods and services.
Functioning of the financial market
Despite declining profitability in banking, the financial sector generally performed well
and continued to demonstrate resilience. The banking sector's loans-to-deposits ratio rose to
119 % in 2015, implying an increasing reliance on wholesale financing from abroad to sustain
credit growth. The banking sector's profitability declined in 2015, both in relation to total assets
and to total equity. The sector's capital adequacy ratio remained significantly above the
regulatory target of 12 %, albeit declining from 16.3 % in 2014 to 15.6 % in 2015. The
proportion of non-performing loans in total banking sector loans slightly increased, from 2.9 %
in 2014 to 3.1 % in 2015.
Access to finance
Banks continued to dominate the financial sector. Their rapid credit expansion continued in
2015, with total bank lending increasing by 19.7 %. The value of banking sector assets as a
ratio of GDP continued to increase, rising from 114 % in 2014 to 121 % in 2015. The size of
the much smaller insurance sector (including private pensions) increased from 3 % of GDP to
3.1 %. State-owned banks’ share of total banking sector assets slightly increased to 31.3 % as
of September 2015 (30.7 % in September 2014), while the share of foreign banks remained
stable at 16.4 %.
Functioning of the labour market
The number of jobs increased at a rate commensurate with output growth, but still below
the growth rate of the labour force. In 2015, employment increased by 2.7 % which was less
than the 3 % growth rate of the labour force. As a consequence, the unemployment rate
increased by 0.5 percentage points to an annual average of 10.3 %. Labour force growth is
mainly driven by a growing number of people of working age, but also by some rise in the
labour force participation rate.
The employment rate of women has
remained at a very low level. The overall
employment rate increased to 53.9 % in
2015, with a large difference between men
(75.3 %) and women (32.5 %). Despite the
low proportion of women actively looking
for work, their unemployment rate remains significantly higher than the unemployment rate for
men. In addition, about one third of women who are considered to be employed are in fact
unpaid family workers in the agricultural sector. Almost a third of young people are not in
employment, education or training.
Figure 3 Unemployment in Turkey (% of Active population) Figure 4 Participation rates in Turkey (% of Labour Force)
The efficient functioning of the labour market continued to be impeded by a lack of flexibility,
for example on labour contracts, while undeclared work remained widespread. This calls for a
deepening and widening of labour market reforms, which also need to be more inclusive.
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Unemployment rate Youth unemployment rate
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
ERP policy guidance: Enhance further the
control capacity of the labour inspectorate and
enable tax authorities and the social security
institution to ensure a correct declaration of
wages in order to reduce informality.
3.2. The capacity to cope with competitive pressure and market forces within
Turkey has a good level of preparation in achieving the capacity to cope with the
competitive pressure and market forces within the EU. Sufficient human capital exists and a
relatively modern sectoral structure. Turkey is well-integrated with the EU market in terms of
both trade and investment. Some progress was made in a number of areas, most notably
through further liberalising the energy sector. Significant problems remained as regards the
quality of education. There are also problems of access to education for girls. The lira's real
appreciation has reduced the economy's price competitiveness.
In line with the ERP recommendations and in order to support long-term growth, in the
coming year Turkey should pay particular attention to:
→ enhancing the comprehensive strategy in support of research and development;
→ pursuing the education agenda and improving the qualifications of low-skilled workers.
Education and innovation
Although previous reforms and increased spending on education have generated a
positive impact on educational attainment and enrolment rates, progress seems to have
stalled recently. Significant problems remain over gender equality and the quality of
education. Enrolment rates for pre-schooling (until the age of 6) increased to 55.48 % while
they declined to 94.87 % for primary education and 94.39 % for lower secondary education.
The reason for the decrease in primary education is that for children at the age of five, parents
have a choice between pre-school or primary school.
For upper secondary education, the
enrolment rate is close to 80 %, while for
higher education, it is close to 40 %.
Primary school results are lagging behind
the EU average. According to the most recent PISA3
study on the educational performance of
15-year-old students, Turkish students improved in all three subjects tested (science,
mathematics and reading) between 2009 and 2012. However, the improvement was less
pronounced than in the preceding three-year period and Turkey remained 48 points below the
OECD average. The measures taken by the Government following the coup attempt of 15 July
resulted in considerable staff dismissals and changes in education institutions, posing risks to
the stability of Turkey's education sector. Regarding vocational education and training, the
share of vocational and technical education in secondary education increased from 35.8 % in
2003 to 51 % in 2013. About 34 % of enterprises provide vocational and on-the-job training to
their employees. However, a mismatch continues to exist between requirements of the labour
market and skills produced by the educational system. Turkey needs to make better use of its
human capital in order to stimulate
sustainable and inclusive growth and
R&D expenditure (both public and private)
increased from 0.95 % of GDP in 2013 to
1.01 % of GDP in 2014, though remaining
well below the government’s current target of
1.8 % of GDP by 2018. About half of this
investment came from the private sector. Turkey needs to develop a comprehensive strategy in
3 OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment
ERP policy guidance: Pursue the education
agenda and improve the qualifications of lowskilled
workers in order to make better use of
human capital, in particular of young people.
ERP policy guidance: Enhance the
comprehensive strategy in support of research and
development; this should target an increase of
total spending on research and development and
build closer cooperation between research
institutions and economic operators.
support of research and development, while building closer cooperation between research
institutions and economic operators.
Physical capital and quality of infrastructure
Improvements in the country’s physical capital were modest. Total investment increased by
0.2 percentage points to 20.3 % of GDP in 2015, while the share of private investment
remained stable at 15.9 % of GDP. Public investment increased slightly with a share of 4.4 %
of GDP in 2015. Concentrating in financial services (banking and insurance), gross foreign
direct investment (FDI) inflows as a percentage of GDP increased from 1.6 % in 2014 to 2.4 %
Some progress was made in the energy sector, particularly in the electricity market. Market
liberalisation and privatisation deals in generation and distribution activities encouraged new
private investments, particularly in renewable energies. The Turkish electricity grid is formally
synchronised and interconnected with the ENTSO-E Continental European system since
January 2016, allowing market players to freely import and export electricity between the EU
and Turkey and thus improving the security of supply. Turkish Energy Stock Company
(EPIAS) has become fully operational, contributing to the development of a competitive and
transparent energy platform. Further progress is needed to open the natural gas market, so that
there is competition for the state-owned corporation BOTAŞ. A transparent and cost-based
pricing mechanism for electricity and gas remains to be properly implemented.
The transport infrastructure was enhanced by lengthening the railway and road networks by 3.8
% and 0.4 % respectively in 2014. In telecommunications, the number of internet subscribers
increased by 13.3 % and the internet penetration rate for households increased from 54 % in
2014 to 59.6 % in November 2015. No progress was made on aligning telecommunications
legislation with the EU framework, but the regulator completed the tender over the operating
rights for 4.5G licenses.
Sectoral and enterprise structures
In 2015, GDP grew by 4.0 %, while employment increased only by 2.7 %, indicating an
increase in labour productivity in the overall economy. The sectoral breakdown of employment
growth shows a continued shift towards the services sector, which accounted for 52.5 % of total
employment (and 57.7 % of GDP) in 2015. Industry (including construction) accounted for
27.2 % of employment (and 24.1 % of GDP). Agriculture employed 20.6 % of the workforce
and its share of GDP increased from 7.1 % in 2014 to 7.6 % in 2015, contrary to its long-term
downward trend. The private sector’s share of GDP continued to decline, falling by 0.4
percentage points to 84.3 % in 2015, but it is still quite large by EU standards. Small and
Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) employ around three quarters of Turkey's work force and
generate more than half of the economy's total value added. The capacity of financial
institutions should be widened to provide also to SMEs the type of long-term funding options
which are currently only available to large corporations.
Economic integration with the EU and price competitiveness
Turkey’s trade and economic integration with the EU is high and increased further in
2015. The share of Turkish exports going to the EU increased from 43.5 % to 44.5 % while the
share of Turkish imports coming from the EU increased from 36.7 % to 38.0 %. For the EU,
Turkey has become the 5th largest trade partner, moving up one rank compared to 2014.
Turkey was the EU's 4th main
export market and number 6 in
terms of imports. The openness
of the Turkish economy,
measured by the value of exports
and imports of goods and
services as a percentage of GDP,
decreased from 60.8 % in 2014
to 59.6 % in 2015.
The EU remained the largest
source of FDI flows into Turkey,
although its share of total
inflows decreased from 61.5 %
to 57.6 % in 2015. Further trade
integration with the EU would be
stimulated by Turkey's
elimination of impediments to
the functioning of the EU-Turkey customs union (see acquis chapter 1 - Free movement of
goods). Close to three quarters of the FDI stock in Turkey originates in the EU.
Turkey's international price competitiveness has deteriorated as a result of the 10.2 %
appreciation of the lira in real effective terms between September 2015 and September 2016.
4. ABILITY TO ASSUME THE OBLIGATIONS OF MEMBERSHIP
4.1. Chapter 1: Free movement of goods
The free movement of goods ensures that many products can be traded freely across the EU
based on common rules and procedures. Where products are governed by national rules, the
principle of the free movement of goods prevents these creating unjustified barriers to trade.
Turkey is at a good level of preparation for the free movement of goods. It made some
progress over the past year, mainly in terms of alignment with the New and Global Approach
acquis. However, some technical barriers to trade delay or prevent the free movement of goods
in violation of Turkey’s obligations under the Customs Union.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ eliminate measures which create impediments to the free movement of goods and which are
in breach of the Customs Union, such as export restrictions and requirements related to
registration, prior approval, licensing and surveillance;
→ continue the pace of alignment of sectoral technical legislation, including in the area of
pharmaceuticals, as well as horizontal legislation establishing the New Legislative Framework.
With regard to general principles, the framework for the free movement of goods is largely in
place in Turkey in principle; however, in practice there are several issues. There is a risk-based
electronic import control system, TAREKS, to enable free circulation of goods coming from
the EU, unless a specific risk profile is attributed to them. However, last year the
implementation of TAREKS led to an increasing number of EU products being held back for
documentation and physical checks after risk assessment. Technical barriers to the free
movement of goods persist in the harmonised area on products such as textiles, footwear, and
Figure 5 Turkey trade integration with the EU
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Share of Imports from EU
Share of exports to EU
Trade with the EU (2008=100) (RHS)
clothing, where registration requirements apply, and prior approval and licensing is required for
chemicals and textiles. Surveillance measures for imports under a certain price per unit also
hamper trade flows. Such barriers also exist on goods in the non-harmonised area, affecting
some foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages. Exports of certain products such as aluminium,
copper and leather are also subject to restrictions which in practice amount to a ban, contrary to
Customs Union rules.
Turkey has a regulation on mutual recognition in the non-harmonised area in force since
July 2013. The mutual recognition principle has been introduced to certain areas where national
rules apply. The Ministry of Economy is the focal point for notifying the EU of technical
regulations. However, the number of notifications has not kept up with Turkey´s legislative
Harmonised area: quality infrastructure:
There is a legal basis and administrative structure in place for technical regulations, standards,
conformity assessment, accreditation, metrology, and market surveillance. Alignment with
regulations (EC) 765/2008, (EC) 764/2008 and (EC) 768/2008 has been ensured via various
pieces of legislation, but the relevant framework law needs to be updated. The Turkish
Standards Institute is independent, able to implement European and international standards and
has adequate staff resources and financing. At the end of May 2016, it adopted a total of 20 617
national standards aligned with European standards. It has been a full member of CEN and
Cenelec since 2012. Five Turkish economic operators are full members of the European
Telecommunications Standards Institute, ETSI.
There are 30 notified bodies in Turkey and one technical approval body. The Turkish
Accreditation Agency, TÜRKAK, is a signatory of multilateral agreements under European
Cooperation for Accreditation. The National Metrology Institute, TÜBİTAK-UME, ensures
traceability of international measurement standards in the fields of scientific, chemical and
industrial metrology, which started producing certified reference materials for proficiency
testing and interlaboratory comparisons. It is a member of the European Association of
National Metrology Institutes. Legal metrology is the responsibility of the Ministry of Science,
Industry and Technology, an associate member of European Cooperation in Legal Metrology.
A three-year national metrology strategy was adopted in 2015.
Turkey carries out a regular market surveillance programme in accordance with EU
legislation and submits its annual market surveillance programme to the Commission. An
electronic information system enables the 10 market surveillance authorities to report their
observations. A national market surveillance strategy for 2015 to 2017 is in place. However,
market surveillance in Turkey needs further strengthening in terms of resources and personnel
and increased visibility for consumers and the private sector.
Harmonised area: sectoral legislation
For the ‘New and Global Approach’ product legislation, Turkey adopted legislation to align
with the acquis on non-automatic weighing instruments, measuring instruments, lifts,
equipment for use in potentially explosive atmospheres pyrotechnic articles, low voltage
equipment, simple pressure vessels, electromagnetic compatibility and eco-design requirements
for water pumps. Preparations are advanced for aligning Turkish law with the acquis on civil
explosives, radio & telecommunication terminal equipment and in-vitro medical devices.
On ‘Old Approach’ product legislation, Turkey adopted legislation on fertilisers,
pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles and cosmetics. Some of the provisions of the legislation on
cosmetics are however not consistent with EU legislation and sectoral technical legislation on
pharmaceuticals needs to be further aligned. Contrary to Customs Union rules, Turkey does not
accept EU Good Manufacturing Practices certificates. The national legislation on chemicals
classification, labelling and packaging is aligned with the acquis and the United Nations
Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. Turkey has
continued preparations on aligning its law with the REACH legislation and with the acquis on
pharmaceuticals for human use.
There is a specific licensing and regulation system for economic operators dealing with drug
precursors, with a strict follow-up and monitoring system in cooperation with the police and
customs authorities. Legislation on Good laboratory practices is fully aligned. The Turkish
Accreditation Agency is the relevant national monitoring authority.
On procedural measures, Turkey adopted in 2002 national legislation on textiles, footwear
and crystal glass. Regarding firearms, national legislation is in place laying down licensing
procedures. There was no progress on alignment to the acquis on cultural goods.
4.2. Chapter 2: Freedom of movement for workers
Citizens of one Member State have the right to work in another Member State and must be
given the same working and social conditions as other workers.
There has been no progress on access to the labour market or coordination of social security
systems. So far, Turkey has concluded 14 bilateral social security agreements with EU Member
States, but no new bilateral social security agreements were signed during the reporting period.
There have been no developments on future participation in the EURES (European
Employment Services) network.
4.3. Chapter 3: Right of establishment and freedom to provide services
EU natural and legal persons have the right to establish themselves in any Member State and
to provide cross-border services. For certain regulated professions, there are rules on mutual
recognition of qualifications. Postal services are gradually being opened up to competition.
Preparations are at an early stage on the right of establishment and freedom to provide
services. Turkey made some progress in the past year, particularly in the area of postal
services. Substantial efforts are still needed to align further with the acquis. In the coming year,
Turkey should in particular:
→ align with the Services Directive on the provision of cross-border services and set up a Point
of Single Contact.
As regards the right of establishment, Turkey amended in June the regulation concerning the
employment of foreign health professionals in private establishments enabling inter alia
foreign national midwives to work in the private establishments. A new law adopted in August
simplified the procedures regarding work permits for foreign nationals. However, the
requirement to obtain a work permit - on top of the procedures regarding the establishment and
registration of their company - remains in place for self-employed EU nationals.
Regarding the freedom to provide cross-border services, service providers registered in the
EU are still subject to registration, licensing and authorisation requirements in Turkey. The
nationality requirement for professional tourist guides is not in line with the acquis. Turkey still
needs to align its law with the Services Directive and to set up a Point of Single Contact.
Some progress was made on postal services. Turkey adopted a regulation on universal postal
services defining the scope of and principles for providing services.
Preparations in the area of freedom of movement for workers are at an early stage and there
has been no progress during the reporting period.
On the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, the Vocational Qualifications
Authority published a regulation on national professional standards and national qualifications,
and continued to issue occupational standards. Some regulated professions are still subject to
reciprocal recognition. Nationality and language requirements remain. Turkey needs to further
align with the acquis in this area.
4.4. Chapter 4: Free movement of capital
In the EU, capital and investments must be able to move without restriction and there are
common rules for cross-border payments. Banks and other economic operators apply certain
rules to support the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of free movement of capital. The legislation on real
estate acquisition is not aligned with the acquis; it lacks transparency and restricts the rights of
a number of Member States’ nationals. Turkey has made some progress in payment systems,
the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. In the coming year, Turkey should
→ draft and adopt an action plan for liberalising the purchase of real estate by foreigners;
→ step up cooperation between prosecution, law enforcement and financial intelligence units;
→ further reinforce its preventive measures against the misuse of its financial system for the
purpose of money laundering and terrorism financing.
On capital movements and payments, Turkish law on real estate acquisition by foreigners
remains opaque and does not apply to all EU citizens in a non-discriminatory way. Turkey
needs to adopt and implement an action plan for gradually liberalising the purchase of real
estate by foreigners, bringing its laws into line with the acquis. Foreign ownership is subject to
restrictions in radio and TV broadcasting, transport, education and the electricity market.
Turkey has already reached a good standard in payment systems. In January, it adopted
implementing legislation on payments and securities systems aiming at further alignment with
Turkey has made progress in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. In
February, the country ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention on Laundering, Search,
Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism. The
legislation on terrorism financing has been strengthened in compliance with the
recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force. Turkey needs to further align with the
acquis by reinforcing its preventive measures against the misuse of its financial system for the
purpose of money laundering and terrorism financing. The law on the confiscation of criminal
assets is partly in line with the acquis. Turkey’s track record on anti-money laundering needs to
be strengthened. In particular, the number of convictions, confiscations, seizures and freezing
of assets remains limited for case of money laundering and terrorism financing as a stand-alone
4.5. Chapter 5: Public Procurement
EU rules ensure that the public procurement of goods, services and works in any Member
State is transparent and open to all EU companies on the basis of non-discrimination and
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of public procurement, as important gaps remain in
its alignment with the acquis. Public procurement remains an area particularly vulnerable to
corruption. Some progress was achieved in the past year, especially with regard to Turkey’s
implementation and enforcement capacity. Further efforts are needed in public procurement, an
area for potential inclusion in a modernised and extended Customs Union. In the coming year,
Turkey should in particular:
→ revise public procurement law to address utilities, concessions and public-privatepartnerships,
in line with the 2014 EU public procurement directives, and to increase
→ start repealing exceptions that conflict with the acquis, as envisaged in the harmonisation
schedule under the national action plan for EU accession, and eliminating restrictive measures
such as domestic price advantages and civilian offsets.
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
Turkey’s legal framework for public procurement broadly reflects the principles of the Treaty
on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). However, for certain goods Turkey applies
a compulsory domestic price advantage.
The Public Procurement Law, which is broadly in line with the 2004 EU public procurement
directives, is applicable to tenders both above and below the thresholds. The legislation is
harmonised with and supported by budget and expenditure regulations, so that public contracts
can be prepared, awarded, and managed in line with sound project management principles.
However, the legislation has a number of inconsistencies with the acquis and needs to be
aligned. Its scope is reduced by a range of sector-specific laws which limit transparency for
businesses and establish different means of legal remedy (administrative or judicial), depending
on the sector. The legislation on the utilities sector is more restrictive than allowed under the
EU Utilities Directive. Regulations governing defence and security procurement are largely in
line with the acquis. The thresholds for all types of procurement remain higher than those in the
EU. Turkey does not have a comprehensive legislative framework for concessions and publicprivate
A domestic price advantage of up to 15 % continues to be compulsory for ‘medium and hightechnology
industrial products’ and is often applied at the maximum rate of 15 %. On the basis
of 2015 statistics, use of the domestic price advantage has almost tripled. It was applied in
24.90 % of the number of contracts above the minimum threshold (9.22 % in 2014) and in
36.51 % of the overall contract value (29.11 % in 2014). The civilian offset option in public
tenders began to be applied after implementing legislation was published in 2015 and in 2016.
The third economic transformation plan under Turkey’s tenth development plan (2014-2018)
aims at developing local manufacturing capacity via public procurement and extends the use of
offset agreements to other sectors. Turkey should eliminate restrictive measures which
contradict the acquis and consider applying the new means provided for under the 2014 EU
Directives for promoting innovation, domestic production and technology transfer.
Turkey does not have a specific public procurement strategy. The 64th government
programme and the national action plan for EU accession of January 2016 include a
harmonisation schedule aimed at revising legislation in line with the 2014 EU public
procurement directives, as well as amending legislation on utilities and public-private
The Public Procurement Authority (PPA) is responsible for implementing public
procurement law and monitoring the public procurement system. The Ministry of Finance is in
charge of coordinating policy formulation and implementation.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Turkey’s public procurement market represented 7.1 % of the country’s GDP in 2015 (6.4 %
in 2014). Procedures generally comply with transparency and efficiency principles. There is a
well-functioning central public procurement portal (EKAP). The Ministry of Finance, the PPA
and the Ministry of Development have sufficient operational capacity. The market and
competition work satisfactorily in most sectors. The average number of bidders in public
tenders was 3.86 as compared with 4.49 in the previous period. Framework agreements are
effectively used in accordance with EU requirements. Centralised purchasing is used
effectively, in a limited number of areas, such as the health sector. However, Turkey does not
have a single authority in charge of coordinating, supervising and monitoring public-private
partnership (PPP) operations, despite their significant increase in volume. The PPP unit in the
Ministry of Development provides an early-stage review of some projects, together with the
Treasury and the Ministry of Finance. Allegations of political interference in some public
tenders have been made, in particular regarding large private-public partnerships which are
exempt from the Public Procurement Law.
Monitoring of contract award and implementation is satisfactory. The PPA issues half-yearly
statistics which provide the basis for measuring performance and outcomes and for improving
the public procurement system.
Contracting authorities’ capacity to manage public procurement processes continues to
improve. Turkey uses e-procurement effectively. The PPA provides sufficient regulatory,
advisory and operational support to the contracting authorities.
Mechanisms to identify and address corrupt and fraudulent practices are in place, including
rules on integrity and conflicts of interest. However, Turkey should develop a risk indicator
system that signals potential integrity problems in the procurement process.
Efficient remedies system
The right to legal remedy is stipulated in the Constitution and in the Public Procurement Law.
Any decision on complaints by a contracting authority can be appealed before the Public
Procurement Board within the PPA. New Board members were appointed for four years in
April 2016. The PPA’s review remit does not include areas exempted from public procurement
law, such as utilities or concessions.
With regard to implementation capacity, the PPA review and remedies system provides for
speedy, effective and competent handling and resolution of complaints and sanctions. In 2015,
the Public Procurement Board examined 3 720 complaints, accounting for 3.7 % of all tenders
(3 942 and 4 % in 2014). To avoid possible conflicts of interest, the Board´s integration within
the PPA requires to be reassessed.
4.6. Chapter 6: Company law
The EU has common rules on the formation, registration, and disclosure requirements of a
company, with complementary rules for accounting and financial reporting, and statutory
Turkey is well advanced in the area of company law legislation. Good progress was made in
the areas of mergers and divisions — a key recommendation from 2015 — and by
strengthening the Public Oversight, Accounting and Auditing Standards Authority.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ finalise technical alignment of legislative amendments in preparation and continue efforts to
align with the latest accounting and statutory audit acquis.
On company law, Turkey’s level of alignment is already high. The progress made on
alignment in the area of mergers and divisions means that a very small number of issues remain
to be addressed. Regarding takeover bids, there are also only a few issues outstanding. Online
electronic registration of companies has been further improved. Disclosure of and public access
to financial documents of companies required to be published in accordance with EU
accounting rules need to be ensured.
Concerning corporate accounting and statutory audit, Turkey continued to adopt new
financial reporting and auditing standards, and amendments to existing ones, based on
International Financial Reporting Standards and standards published by the International
Federation of Accountants. The Turkish Public Oversight, Accounting and Auditing Standards
Authority and the Capital Markets Board further improved their administrative capacity
through recruitment and training.
The scope of statutory audit has been further broadened by reducing the total assets and net
turnover thresholds, and the number of approved statutory auditors and audit firms further
increased. Alignment with the latest acquis on accounting and statutory audit needs to be
4.7. Chapter 7: Intellectual property law
The EU has harmonised rules for the legal protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs), as
well as rules for the legal protection of copyright and related rights. Rules for the legal
protection of IPRs cover, for instance, patents and trademarks, designs, biotechnological
inventions and pharmaceuticals. Rules for the legal protection of copyright and related rights
cover, for instance, books, films, computer programmes and broadcasting.
Turkey has a good level of preparation in this area. There was some progress in the past year
in improving administrative capacity and coordination but enforcement remained problematic.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ adopt pending industrial property and copyright legislation in line with the acquis;
→ improve enforcement measures in fighting against piracy and counterfeiting;
→ ensure rights are enforced and pursue awareness initiatives on intellectual property
protection beyond current efforts.
Turkish public bodies in charge of intellectual property (IP) generally improved their
coordination arrangements. In copyright and neighbouring rights, management of collective
rights is still problematic, particularly with regard to the treatment of foreign producers, to
public performance rights and to reproduction rights. The draft copyright law is still pending.
The draft law on industrial property rights, published in March 2016 for public consultation,
is an opportunity to progress towards alignment with the IP acquis. A few crucial issues
remain, including the introduction of a regime of international exhaustion of trademark rights.
Turkish patent law is still not fully in line with the EU acquis or with the European Patent
Office’s standards on pharmaceutical inventions. The Turkish Patent Institute has improved its
sectoral and administrative capacity, including capacity for geographical indications, through
recruitment and training. Turkey also improved its capacity with regard to plant variety
breeders’ rights. Dialogue with IPR holders on systemic IPR problems has yet to be established
and additional work is needed on geographical indications, on plant variety and on regulatory
data protection for pharmaceuticals.
On judicial enforcement, the Court of Cassation IPR Criminal Chamber became more
specialised. Alignment with the EU Enforcement Directive is still needed, in particular on
returning counterfeit goods to offenders, storage by rights holders of confiscated goods and
inconsistencies in obtaining preliminary injunctions. Since 2014, the number of complaints
about search and seizure warrants has increased markedly. Customs enforcement against
counterfeit goods further improved, with an increase in the number of seizures. However,
despite continuous efforts, counterfeiting and piracy still remain widespread, posing risks to
public health and consumer protection. Turkey’s legislation on customs enforcement needs to
be further aligned with the acquis. More assertive political will on IPR enforcement is needed.
4.8. Chapter 8: Competition policy
EU rules protect free competition. They include antitrust rules against restrictive agreements
between companies and abuse of dominant position. EU rules also prevent governments from
unduly granting State aid which distorts competition.
Turkey has some level of preparation in the area of competition policy. No progress was
achieved in this field in the past year. Legislation on antitrust rules is largely aligned with the
acquis. However, the gap in the alignment between Turkey’s State aid policy and EU State aid
rules remains. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ implement the State aid law without further delay to ensure effective monitoring of aid
measures and proper alignment with the acquis, including finalisation of an updated inventory
of aid schemes.
Antitrust and merger
The legislative framework is broadly aligned with the acquis. The Law on the Protection of
Competition reflects the substance of Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the
European Union (TFEU) on restrictive agreements and Article 102 of TFEU on antitrust rules.
Competition law has also established ex ante control of mergers above certain turnover
thresholds, in line with the EU Merger Regulation. Secondary legislation in this field is largely
in place. A draft law on amendments to the Law on the Protection of Competition is pending.
This draft law includes provisions in line with the acquis, particularly concerning the
introduction of the de minimis rule.
Regarding the institutional framework, the Competition Authority (CA) is responsible for
implementing the Law on the Protection of Competition. Attached to the Ministry of Customs
and Trade, it is operationally a largely independent body. It is governed by seven board
members. The CA’s remit is very similar to that of the European Commission. It has the
authority to prohibit mergers, to grant and refuse individual exemptions from the application of
competition rules and to undertake on-site investigations. It can launch investigations upon
complaints and notifications as well as on its own initiative. It is obliged to complete its
investigations within six months as a rule. A leniency policy on fines for companies that
provide information in cartel cases is in place. The CA issues opinions on draft laws that may
have an effect on competition, either on request or on its own initiative. Parties may appeal
against its decisions before the administrative courts.
The CA’s enforcement capacity is adequate. Implementation is overall effective, but it shows
a downward trend over the period 2013-2015. There is a marked decline in the number of
decisions, in particular in the area of antitrust (from 191 to 89) and in the fines imposed (from
EUR 280 million in 2013 to zero in 2015). In May 2016, the CA imposed a fine of
EUR 2 258 443 on Turk Telekomunikasyon, the telecommunications company, on procedural
grounds. The CA conducted a significant average of 75 raids annually between 2013 and 2015.
The number of complaints that resulted in an investigation declined from 20 in 2013 to 5 in
2015. The number of appeals against CA decisions was relatively stable (with an average of
155 cases per year between 2013 and 2015) and the vast majority of these decisions were
upheld by the national courts. The CA also carried out activities to keep sector representatives
and public institutions updated on antitrust rules.
The legislative framework is partially in line with the acquis. State aid regulations do not
cover agriculture, fisheries, or the services sectors, which are not part of the EU-Turkey
Customs Union. Turkey’s Law on the Monitoring and Supervision of State Aid is broadly in
line with Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
(TFEU). However, the secondary legislation, which is required to implement the law in
question, is not in place yet. It is currently due to enter into force on 31 December 2016,
according to a deadline already postponed four times.
Regarding the institutional framework, the State Aid Monitoring and Supervision Board is
responsible for implementing the law. Some Board members are nominated by aid granting
ministries. The General Director for State Aid chairs the Board. The General Directorate for
State Aid, Turkey’s State aid authority, is attached to the Prime Ministry’s Undersecretariat of
Treasury. Therefore, it is not considered to be operationally independent.
Turkish law requires State aid measures to be notified to the Board, and gives it the authority to
accept an aid measure, to ensure its compatibility and to carry out checks on its own initiative
or on the basis of a complaint. However, these provisions have yet to enter into force, due to
repeated postponement of the adoption of the necessary secondary legislation. It is therefore not
yet possible to assess the enforcement capacity of the Board and the General Directorate for
State Aid. A comprehensive State aid inventory has yet to be set up and an action plan for
alignment has yet to be adopted. Turkey submitted a plan to restructure its steel sector to the
European Commission in 2009.
Competition and State aid rules apply to state-owned enterprises. Turk Telekomunikasyon and
TUPRAS, Turkey’s sole oil refiner, have legal monopolies in the fixed telecommunications and
refined oil products markets, respectively. In 2014, the CA fined TUPRAS for abuse of a
dominant position in the market.
4.9. Chapter 9: Financial services
EU rules aim to ensure fair competition between and the stability of financial institutions,
namely banking, insurance, supplementary pensions, investment services and securities
markets. They include rules on the authorisation, operation and supervision of these
Turkey has a good level of preparation in the area of financial services. Some progress was
made, as some decisions were taken to improve market governance. In the coming year, Turkey
should in particular:
→ re-establish trust in the independence of supervisory agencies, in particular the Banking
Regulatory and Supervisory Agency, through a track record of well founded, independent
There was some progress in the areas of banks and financial conglomerates. The Banking
Regulatory and Supervisory Agency introduced additional capital requirements for
systemically important banks as of 31 March 2016. Meanwhile, the regulator eased the
restrictions on credit card instalments, consumer and housing loans and issued a third
participation bank licence benefiting state-owned banks. The authorities initiated the
liquidation process for the Asya Bank, whose takeover by the state created perceptions of a
politically motivated decision. The Banking Regulatory and Supervisory Agency itself was
subject to investigation following the coup attempt and some of its staff was laid off.
There was no progress on insurance and occupational pensions. On financial market
infrastructure, the Istanbul Arbitration Centre has become operational, publishing its arbitration
and mediation rules and tariffs.
There was no further progress on financial markets infrastructure but good progress on
securities markets and investment services. Following a review of the Turkish legal
framework, the European Securities and Markets Authority concluded that a prospectus drawn
up in Turkey constitutes a valid prospectus under the Prospectus Directive. The Capital
Markets Board of Turkey amended the implementing regulation on securities services,
introducing prudential measures on the conduct of leveraged foreign exchange and over-thecounter
derivative transactions. The regulator signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU)
with the Brunei Monetary Authority for information exchange, increasing the number of such
MoUs to 35.
4.10. Chapter 10: Information society and media
The EU supports the good functioning of the internal market for electronic communications,
electronic commerce and audiovisual media services. The rules protect consumers and support
universal availability of modern services.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the areas of information society and regarding the
legislation on audiovisual media services. Some progress was achieved in the past year in
the area of electronic communications and information society. Market access problems,
unsufficient competition in fixed markets, the overregulation of the sector, high taxation and
questionable cost burdens on operators and consumers remain important issues of concern.
Though the broadcasting law is to a large extent in line with the EU acquis, the insufficient
protection of freedom of expression and overregulation in the sector remain issues of
concern. In the coming year Turkey should in particular:
→ strengthen the independence of the regulatory authorities and their members;
→ revise the law on the internet in line with the Venice Commission's recommendations of
March 2016 to support an environment conducive to freedom of speech on the internet;
→ further align the authorisation regime, market access, rights of way and universal service
in electronic communication with the EU acquis;
→ take the necessary steps to complete the digital switchover as soon as possible.
On electronic communications and information and communication technologies, there
was limited progress in aligning Turkish legislation with the EU on the authorisation regime,
market analysis, market access and the universal service regime. In the fixed voice and
broadband market, competition is not effective and the market share of alternative operators
remains at 6 %. A more proactive Competition Authority with regard to retail internet and
mobile communication services would be advisable. Effective competition in fixed markets
would require access to the physical network and increased fibre penetration. The minimum
capital requirement for fixed phone operators presents a barrier to market entry. Authorities
should ensure consultation procedures with stakeholders. Municipalities regularly charge
operators additional fees for rights of way and the installation of base stations. The taxation
regime remains complex and taxes are disproportionately high without clear justification and
twice as expensive for mobile virtual network operators. Operators were enabled to use
multiband spectrum more efficiently. The mobile broadband penetration rate significantly
increased from 41.7 % to 49.6 % in 2015, while fixed broadband rose only slightly from
11.5 % to 12.1 %. 4G services were launched in April 2016. Full independence of the
Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) needs to be ensured. The law
on the internet has not been amended and concerns remain. (See chapter 23 – Judiciary and
In the field of information society, an ambitious e-government strategy for 2016-2019 was
adopted in July 2016 laying down a comprehensive set of policy objectives.
In the area of audiovisual policy, it remains uncertain when the digital switchover process will
be completed due to a new ongoing tendering process. In terms of transparency, the decisions
of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) are publicly available online, together
with the internal experts’ reports on which they are based. The number of sanctions imposed on
broadcasters on the grounds of praising terrorism, disturbing the public order and violating the
integrity of the state increased, affecting particularly Kurdish language and independent
channels, through fines and suspensions. More than 30 TV and radio stations known for being
critical towards the government were dropped from the state-owned satellite distribution
platform TÜRKSAT. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, the government issued decrees-laws
ordering the closure of 46 TV channels and radio stations, predominantly for alleged links to
the Gülen movement. 23 out of 39 TV channels and radio channels broadcasting in Kurdish
language have been closed. (See chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights)
The independence and neutrality of the RTÜK members, has to be strengthened. The editorial
autonomy of the public broadcaster TRT is in question, as its 13 domestic and international
channels follow largely a pro-government line.
4.11. Chapter 11: Agriculture and rural development
The common agricultural policy supports farmers and rural development. This requires strong
management and control systems. There are also common EU rules for quality policy and
There is some level of preparation in the area of agriculture and rural development. Some
progress was made in the past year. Preparations have advanced on general agricultural issues
and alignment with the common agricultural policy. Turkey’s capacity to absorb funding has
increased with the implementation of the pre-accession rural development programme, IPARD.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ eliminate the remaining restrictions on imports of live cattle and beef;
→ adopt a strategy for agricultural statistics.
Regarding general agricultural issues, the agricultural census is not yet complete and the
strategy for agricultural statistics has not yet been adopted. The farm accountancy data network
covers all 81 provinces and has now been integrated with the agricultural production and
registration system. Development of a land parcel identification system has continued with EU
Unjustified restrictions on imports of live cattle, beef and derivative products from the EU
continued. Although Turkey has made constructive progress to solve the issue, it has yet to
fully implement its obligations under the EU-Turkey trade agreement for agricultural products,
i.e. by opening quotas for beef and live animals on a lasting basis.
In rural development, the first EU pre-accession programme for agriculture and rural
development (IPARD I) has created more than 50 000 jobs through the implementation of
nearly 11 000 projects following 15 calls for applications. More efforts beyond ongoing
initiatives are needed to increase awareness of the programme’s impact. The IPARD-II sectoral
agreement has been ratified and a first call for applications launched. The regulation on the
IPARD-II Monitoring Committee was published and a request for the entrustment of budget
implementation tasks for the IPARD II programme was submitted to the Commission. The
agricultural and rural development support institution has reached a mature stage and its staff
continues to receive training in specific areas for further improvement. The institutional
capacity of the managing authority needs to be strengthened in line with the IPA II Regulations.
Some additional steps have been taken to introduce the agri-environment and LEADER
approach on a pilot scale.
The preparation of implementing legislation on the principles and implementation of organic
agriculture is at a final stage.
4.12. Chapter 12: Food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary policy
EU hygiene rules for foodstuff production ensure a high level of food safety. Animal health and
welfare and the safety of food of animal origin are safeguarded together with quality of seeds,
plant protection material, protection against harmful organisms and animal nutrition.
There is some level of preparation in the area of food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary
policy. There has been no progress in the past year. Full implementation of the acquis in this
area will require significant further efforts, particularly in areas such as animal by-products,
animal welfare, the identification and registration of animals and control of their movements. In
the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ upgrade food establishments to meet EU standards, among other things by submitting
a national programme and a monitoring plan;
→ take further steps to adapt and enforce rules on animal welfare and animal by-products.
There has been limited progress in aligning and implementing the acquis on general food
safety. Efforts should be intensified to fully align veterinary policy with the EU acquis. The
identification and registration of bovines and small ruminants has continued. Border inspection
posts at land and sea borders and at Sabiha Gökçen Airport in Istanbul are still not fully
functioning. Implementing legislation was adopted on transhipment of product consignments at
the border inspection post of entry, as were animal health rules for imports and transit of certain
ungulate animals and on standard models for veterinary health certificates for imported live
Turkey has continued its fight against animal diseases. There were increased numbers of foot
and mouth disease outbreaks due to a change in the strain circulating; foot and mouth disease
had been under control as a result of mass vaccination. The disease-free zone with vaccination
of the Thrace region has been maintained through strict movement controls. Significant efforts
are still needed to fully align with and implement the acquis on transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies and surveillance systems, including full compliance with Decision 1/98 (See
chapter 11 — Agriculture and Rural Development). Further structural and administrative
efforts are required to fully implement the acquis on animal welfare. There has been no
progress on zoonoses.
Turkey continued to run training, inspection and monitoring programmes for the placing on
the market of food, feed and animal by-products, and administrative capacity for official
controls has been improved. No progress has been noted on developing the national plan for
upgrading agri-food establishments. Significant efforts are still needed to apply the new rules
on registering and approving food establishments. Work on animal by-products has continued
but adapting the new rules to this sector still requires substantial efforts. Provision for funding
inspections has still not been aligned with the EU system.
Alignment with food safety legislation on issues such as labelling, additives and purity criteria,
flavourings and food supplements has advanced but has yet to be completed for food enzymes
and novel foods. Progress on specific rules for feed and phytosanitary policy remained
4.13. Chapter 13: Fisheries
The common fisheries policy lays down rules for management of fisheries, protects living
resources of the sea and limits the environmental impact of fisheries. This includes setting
catch quotas, managing fleet capacity, rules for markets and aquaculture as well as support for
fisheries and coastal communities.
Preparations in this area remain at an early stage. In the past year, some progress was made on
resources and fleet management, inspection and control, and on international agreements. More
efforts are needed to align the legislation on structural actions, State aid and market policy and
to strengthen institutional capacity. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ adopt the draft fisheries law.
No particular progress was made on administrative and organisational capacity. The draft
fisheries law still has not been adopted. Regarding resources and fleet management, the total
number of decommissioned vessels has reached 1 011 under the ongoing subsidy scheme. This
has further contributed to progress in fleet management. A data collection programme for
marine fisheries has been run jointly by the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock and
the Turkish Statistical Institute. The Fisheries Information System has been included in the
ministry’s internal information system.
On inspection and control, some progress was made in legislative alignment and on
implementation of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna
(ICCAT) recommendations on bluefin tuna, although some divergences remain on the recovery
plan. Implementing legislation was adopted setting up a system of fisheries vessel monitoring,
potentially an important step towards sustainable fisheries management. No progress was made
on structural action, State aid or market policy. Regarding international agreements,
cooperation between Turkey and the EU continued in ICCAT and the General Fisheries
Commission for the Mediterranean. As the EU implements provisions of the United Nations
Convention on the Law of the Sea, inter alia in the common fisheries policy, Turkey’s
ratification of the Convention would improve cooperation with the EU on fisheries and
4.14. Chapter 14: Transport policy
The EU has common rules for technical and safety standards, security, social standards, State
aid and market liberalisation in road transport, railways, inland waterways, combined
transport, aviation and maritime transport.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of transport policy. Some progress has been
achieved in the reporting period, mainly in the areas of rail and aviation. However, more work
is needed to strengthen rail authorities' financial and technical capacity as well as the
administrative capacity for all modes of transport, particularly civil aviation.
In addition to addressing the shortcomings outlined above, in the coming year, Turkey should
→ focus on implementing the action plan for the liberalisation of the railway sector;
→ improve road safety conditions and reduce road traffic accident fatalities;
→ adopt the legislation on intelligent transport systems, and improve capacity and resources for
As regards the general transport acquis, key strategic documents such as the national
transport strategy reflect earlier EU policy priorities, but these strategies will have to be revised
to take into account the latest EU priorities in sustainable urban mobility and in combating
climate change. A transport master plan covering all modes of transport needs to be approved.
Further efforts should be made to complete alignment with the acquis on public service
obligations, including transposing the acquis on the procedure and criteria for the award of
public service contracts in the field of railway and road transport. A significant number of staff
and sector professionals have been trained, particularly in the area of handling dangerous goods
and road safety. Strengthening administrative capacity in all transport modes remains a priority,
especially in aviation and railways. The accident investigation body covering all transport
modes does not have sufficient independence from the regulator, the Ministry of Transport, as
required by the acquis.
On road transport, the legal framework is at a good level of alignment. The regulation on
technical inspections of road infrastructure and vehicles carrying dangerous goods entered into
force in April. Conformity assessments are performed by the Turkish Standards Institution and
Turkish Lloyd is licensed for testing, certification and periodic inspection of containers and
transportable pressure equipment. Turkey has to continue alignment with road safety policies
under the acquis and to develop administrative structures and strategies to reduce road traffic
accident fatalities. Turkey needs to align with the intelligent transport systems legislation, the
‘clean power for transport’ package on clean and energy-efficient road transport vehicles and
the introduction of infrastructure for alternative fuels.
Progress has been made in the rail transport sector. Secondary legislation was published on
the approval of railway stock and on railway safety, on authorisation of railway undertakings,
establishing their services, entry conditions and obligations, and on the public service
obligation for passenger transport. These regulations mostly foster the opening up of the
railway market in Turkey, however, the alignment with the acquis of these by-laws has not
been ascertained yet. In June, the incumbent state-owned railway company, Turkish State
Railways (TCDD), split rail operation into infrastructure (to TCDD as Infrastructure Manager)
and operations (to TCDD Transportation Joint Stock Company), in order to align with the
acquis. The network statement and the track access charges which would ensure open access to
the railway market are still pending. The rail regulator should also tackle cross-subsidisation of
rail services and set up a holding structure that ensures the neutrality of the infrastructure
manager vis-à-vis all market operators, including TCDD Transportation Company. The rail
regulatory body’s lack of own resources undermines its independence from the Ministry of
Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication. The Directorate-General for Rail Regulation
still acts as both the regulatory authority and the safety authority and it does not enjoy sufficient
independence from the Ministry of Transport. Further alignment efforts are required. In
addition, the ministry should not carry out the functions of economic regulator after
liberalisation, as it would not be compatible with Directive 2012/34 establishing a single
European railway area.
In maritime transport, the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communication
started a training programme on oil pollution preparedness and emergency response. Turkey
became party to the Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic (FAL) in
February. It has yet to ratify the 2006 Maritime Labour Convention. Turkey should continue its
efforts to become party to all basic conventions of the International Maritime Organization,
including membership of the Paris Memorandum of Understanding. Turkey is encouraged to
complete its legislative and technological framework for maritime transport monitoring,
ensuring alignment with the acquis on the Community vessel traffic monitoring and
In the area of inland waterway transport, the relevant EU legislation will have to be
transposed, and a new authority responsible for inland waterways will have to be established.
Turkey does not participate in the EU strategy for the development of the Danube Region
(EUSDR) and did not sign the main international agreements on inland waterways.
In aviation, Turkey is making progress in aligning with the acquis. It has expressed interest in
a comprehensive aviation agreement including safety issues. It adopted implementing
legislation on safety assessment of national and foreign aircraft, on passengers with reduced
mobility, and on flight and duty time limitations and rest requirements. No significant progress
was made in air operations or aircrew domains. The capacity of the Directorate-General for
Civil Aviation is not keeping pace with the size and growth of the Turkish civil aviation sector.
The revised working arrangement with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA),
extended to all areas of aviation safety, should be concluded as a matter of priority. Turkey is
encouraged to become a full part of the EU aviation system, with special attention to safety,
including participation in the management board of EASA and joining the Single European Sky
initiative. Until then EASA cannot perform safety inspections on air traffic management and air
navigation services and therefore Turkey’s level of progress in these areas cannot be
ascertained. The lack of communication between air traffic control centres in Turkey and
Cyprus continues to seriously compromise air safety in the Nicosia flight information region.
An operational solution needs to be found urgently to resolve this safety issue.
As regards combined transport, the country adopted a combined transport strategy back in
2014, but there has not been any progress since then in terms of new legislation. Opportunities
for developing combined transport will have to be further enhanced.
As long as restrictions remain in place on vessels and aircraft registered in or related to Cyprus
or whose last port of call was Cyprus, Turkey will not be in a position to fully implement the
acquis relating to this chapter.
4.15. Chapter 15: Energy
EU energy policy covers security of supply, the internal energy market, energy efficiency,
renewable energy sources, nuclear energy, nuclear safety and radiation protection.
Turkey is moderately prepared in this chapter. Good progress continued in the area of
security of supply, electricity and the renewable energy sector. Turkey is at an advanced stage
of alignment in the electricity sector. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ complete the gas market reform in line with the acquis in the gas sector, by setting out a
legally binding plan and a timetable, including third party access to the transit network and the
unbundling of activities;
→ adopt its nuclear energy law in line with the Euratom acquis, including restructuring of the
nuclear energy regulator (TAEK) to separate its operating functions and guarantee its full
independence from any entity concerned with the development of nuclear energy;
→ make progress on transparent, cost-reflective and non-discriminatory tariffs for electricity
There has been significant progress regarding security of supply. Turkey continues to comply
with the oil stocks acquis. A draft fuel market law regulating emergency oil stocks and oil
security remains pending. Progress continues on the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline project
(TANAP): all major procurement contracts have already been awarded with a view to finalising
the project in 2018, well ahead of the original schedule. Efforts towards expanding TANAP to
bring new gas sources from the Caspian and/or the Middle East to Turkey and Europe
continued. The feasibility and technical studies are ongoing for the project of a bidirectional
interconnector between Turkey and Bulgaria. On the other hand, stalled negotiations on the
‘Turkish Stream’ were re-launched in August 2016 following the normalisation of bilateral
relations between Turkey and Russia. An intergovernmental agreement on 'Turkish Stream' was
signed on 10 October 2016 in the presence of the Turkish and Russian Presidents in the
margins of the 23rd World Energy Congress in Istanbul. No progress was made on a transparent
gas transit regime.
Good progress continued on electricity networks. The Turkish Electricity Transmission
Company (TEIAŞ) became an observer member of the European Network of Transmission
System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) in January 2016 following the 2015 agreement on
commercial electricity exchanges between Turkey and the European Union. This is an
important step towards full integration with the EU’s electricity market. Efforts to build
electricity interconnections with other neighbouring countries continued.
As regards the internal energy market, in electricity Turkey has continued to adopt new
implementing legislation in line with the EU’s Third Energy Package. Two new regulations
regarding the merging and acquisition of electricity distribution companies and demand
forecasting were issued in May 2016 with a view to improving efficiency, competition,
transparency and accountability. Several amendments were also made to implementing
regulations with a view to ensuring full functioning of day-ahead and intra-day markets; these
market operations were transferred to the Energy Markets Operation Joint Stock Company
(EPIAŞ) in September 2015. Distribution companies were legally unbundled from their supply
activities by January 2016, in line with the acquis. The eligibility threshold for electricity
consumers to change supplier was further reduced from 4 000 kWh to 3 600 kWh for 2016,
which corresponds to a theoretical market opening of almost 86 %. No timetable has been set
for full market opening. Customer requests to switch suppliers have to be granted within three
weeks. The proportion of consumers switching suppliers remained below 5 % in 2016. The
deadline set for eliminating cross-subsidies, which are mainly between regions rather than
between categories of customers in the electricity market (there is a single national tariff), was
extended from December 2015 to January 2021, considerably postponing the advent of a fully
functioning cost-based electricity market. A transparent and cost-based pricing mechanism for
electricity has not yet been properly implemented.
There has been uneven progress in the gas market. The Turkish Energy Market Regulatory
Authority issued a decision on floating storage and regasification units with a view to
strengthening security of supply and ensuring diversification of sources. The tendering process
for gas distribution continued, and the network was extended to 76 provinces out of 81.
Customer requests to switch suppliers have to be granted within two weeks. The eligibility
threshold for natural gas was kept unchanged at 75 000 m3
for 2016 with no timetable to
achieve full market opening to all gas customers. There were further developments on the
unbundling of the Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ) and the legal unbundling of its
distribution activities. Fully cost-reflective pricing has yet to be properly implemented. A draft
law to amend the Natural Gas Market Law, which is expected to address many shortcomings
regarding acquis alignment, has been pending in Parliament since August 2014.
Turkey’s legislation on hydrocarbons is at an advanced stage of alignment with the acquis.
Turkey already implements the Hydrocarbons Authorisation Directive, but will need to align
with Directive 2013/30/EU on the Safety of Offshore Oil and Gas Operations, also as regards
transit of hydrocarbons.
Positive developments continued in the renewable energy sector, where Turkey is largely in
line with the acquis It has already taken significant steps to promote renewable energy,
targeting at least 30 % of electricity, to be generated from renewable resources by 2023. A
renewable energy action plan, in line with the requirements of Directive 2009/28/EC, has been
in force since February 2015. The goal is total capacity of 61 GW by 2023, which would
represent an increase in the share of renewable energy sources from the present 15 % to
20.5 %. A new regulation was issued in June 2016 on incentivising and supervising
domestically manufactured equipment to be used in generating electricity from renewable
energy sources. Development of renewable energy, including hydropower, must abide with
acquis requirements on State Aid and on environment. The regulatory regime should be
streamlined. Renewable energy accounted for 32 % energy generation in 2015, up from 21 %
in 2014 due to higher hydropower output.
No progress was made on energy efficiency. Turkey has set ambitious energy efficiency
targets under its energy efficiency strategy paper, aimed at reducing the country’s energy
intensity by at least 20 % by 2023, compared with the base year 2011. However, a national
energy efficiency action plan, setting out clear priorities with sectoral targets and milestones in
line with the requirements of Directive 2012/27/EU, has not been adopted. There is no
timetable for achieving full alignment with the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, or
with the Energy Efficiency Directive. There is an urgent need to strengthen the institutional
structure to improve coordination between the different ministries for the implementation of
energy efficiency policies, possibly by establishing an effective dedicated agency (as in many
EU Member States).
No progress was made on nuclear energy, nuclear safety and radiation protection. There
has been limited development in the Akkuyu nuclear power plant project; feasibility studies are
ongoing for the Sinop nuclear power plant. Turkey’s efforts on its planned third nuclear power
plant have continued. Turkey’s existing legislation is only partially aligned with the Euratom
acquis, specifically the Nuclear Safety Directive and the Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste
Directive. The draft framework law on nuclear energy, providing inter alia for the
establishment of an independent regulatory authority is pending. To comply with the acquis, it
would be essential that the law properly addresses the safety objective to prevent and mitigate
nuclear accidents. This objective needs to be applied to new nuclear installations from the
design phase. The stress test report on the preliminary design of the Akkuyu power plant needs
to be completed. Turkey has not yet acceded to the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent
Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management. Turkey is not yet a
member of the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange (ECURIE)
4.16. Chapter 16: Taxation
EU rules on taxation cover value added tax and excise duties as well as aspects of corporate
taxation. They also deal with cooperation between tax administrations, including the exchange
of information to prevent tax evasion.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of taxation. No progress was made on this area
except for the 2009 action plan on tobacco. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ Take decisive steps to ensure compliance with the 2009 action plan regarding excise duties
on alcoholic beverages;
→ Align the range of excisable energy products with the acquis.
As regards indirect taxation, Turkey’s legislation on value added tax widened the range of
products subject to a 1 % rate, which is not in line with the acquis, to fertiliser and animal feed.
Turkish legislation on structure, exemptions, special schemes and the scope of reduced rates
needs to be further aligned with the acquis. On excise duties, the specific duty on imported and
blended tobacco that financed the Tobacco Fund was reduced in December from USD 900 to
USD 600 per tonne, in line with the 2009 action plan which includes full elimination of the
duty financing the Fund by 2018. Discrepancies continue between Turkey’s legislation on
cigarette excise duties and the acquis regarding the specific and ad valorem elements of the tax.
However, the overall level of excise duty on cigarettes is close to EU levels. Regarding
alcoholic beverages, in December Turkey increased the excise duty on all alcoholic beverages
by 15 %, thereby increasing the discriminatory differentials between domestic and imported
products. Consequently, the excise duty gap between raki and equivalent spirits increased from
TRY 17.41 to TRY 20.03 in absolute terms, whereas the 2009 action plan forecast a gap of just
TRY 6. This contradicts the 2009 action plan on reduction of discriminatory taxation. Excise
duties on energy products are generally well above the EU minima rates, but kerosene, coal and
electricity are not subject to excise duties as required in the acquis.
In the area of direct taxation, no progress was made. There is no development to be reported
in the field of administrative cooperation and mutual assistance.
Regarding operational capacity and computerisation, the Tax Inspectors Board continued to
carry out activities to tackle the informal economy and improve administrative capacity.
4.17. Chapter 17: Economic and monetary policy
EU rules require the independence of central banks and prohibit them from directly financing
the public sector. Member States coordinate their economic policies and are subject to fiscal,
economic and financial surveillance.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of economic and monetary policy. There was no
progress in the past year. The chapter was opened for negotiations in December 2015. Turkey
again submitted its economic reform programme (ERP) with a considerable delay. Strong
political pressures on the central bank persisted, undermining its independence and credibility.
In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ avoid any political interference in the independence of the Central Bank;
→ submit fiscal notifications and the ERP by the set deadlines.
On monetary policy, further progress is needed regarding central bank independence which is
limited in several ways: an inflation target is set jointly with the government, the prime minister
holds the right to mediate in case of conflicts between the central bank's board and its governor,
and the grounds for dismissal of members of the central bank's decision making bodies are not
entirely in line with the acquis. Apart from the necessary legal alignment of the central bank
law, the central bank's independence has to be respected in practice as well by avoiding
political interference in the conduct of monetary policy. Full alignment with the acquis requires
also that the public sector has no privileged access to financial institutions and the prohibition
of monetary financing of the public sector.
On economic policy, further alignment with the Directive on requirements for budgetary
frameworks is needed. Turkey prepares three-yearly fiscal programmes, though not respecting
budget calendars. National accounts are not yet prepared in line with the ESA 2010
methodology. Turkey's budget transparency index score further decreased in 2015, as the
country provides the public with limited budget information. Further improvements are also
needed on the credibility of macroeconomic forecasts; there is a need to strengthen public
sector fiscal risk assessment, given the increasing use of public-private partnerships and state
guarantees for investment financing. Turkey does not have numerical fiscal rules or a fiscal
council that monitors fiscal policy independently as required by the Directive. Turkey does not
submit fiscal notifications as required.
Turkey submitted its 2016-2018 ERP in mid-April with considerable delay. Further efforts are
needed to ensure timely submission of the ERP. The High Level Economic Dialogue provides a
good tool for economic policy coordination with the European Union.
4.18. Chapter 18: Statistics
EU rules require that Member States are able to produce statistics based on professional
independence, impartiality, reliability, transparency, and confidentiality. Common rules are
provided for the methodology, production and dissemination of statistical information.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of statistics. There was some progress in this area
during the reporting period. Further efforts are needed across the board, especially in aligning
macroeconomic and agricultural statistics with the EU acquis. In the coming year, Turkey
should in particular:
→ strengthen cooperation between the National Statistics Office and some other data providers,
while improving the quality and use of administrative records;
→ submit key national accounts data to Eurostat;
→ improve statistics on agriculture, migration and asylum.
As regards statistical infrastructure, the law on statistics follows the principles of the
European Statistics Code of Practice and ensures the professional independence of the National
Statistical Office (NSO), although greater transparency should apply in the appointment of the
President of the NSO. Statistical data are available following a public release calendar that
gives all users access at the same time. Most recent classifications are in place. A
Memorandum of Understanding signed during the past year with the Social Security Institution
will make the access to social security data for statistical purposes easier. However, the
cooperation between the NSO and some of the other main data providers needs to be improved,
particularly with the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.. Access to administrative
records is difficult and the often poor quality of administrative data held by different
institutions results in increased reliance on costly surveys. The priority in the short term is to
improve cooperation between the NSO and the main data providers, improve the quality of
registers and increase the use of administrative data.
For macroeconomic statistics, quarterly national accounts and balance of payments data are in
place but annual national accounts are not yet produced in accordance with the acquis. Turkey
produces external trade statistics in line with the EU acquis. Tables for the excessive deficit
procedure have not yet been submitted. Further progress is needed in foreign affiliate trade
statistics and in the publication of government finance statistics on accrual basis. Supply and
use tables have not been submitted to Eurostat in recent years. Regional accounts are not yet
available at level 3 of the nomenclature for statistical regions. The harmonised index of
consumer prices is produced in line with the acquis. Submitting key national account indicators
according to ESA 2010 and the methodology used is essential for further progress on the
In business statistics, the full implementation of the regulation on structural business statistics
is ongoing, but compliance is still low and data quality not sufficient. The availability and use
of good quality administrative records would render the process more efficient. Turkey is
implementing the latest version of industrial production statistics according to EU standards.
PRODCOM (list of products of the European Community) is aligned. Short-term statistics are
largely aligned, with the exception of services. Transport statistics are produced according to
the EU acquis, but a few road transport data issues remain. Tourism statistics are available
except for data on spending by Turkish tourists abroad. R&D and ICT statistics are well aligned
with the EU acquis. Statistics on science and technology are highly compliant.
As for social statistics, data from the survey on income and living conditions is available and
labour market statistics are fully aligned with the EU acquis, with a continuous labour force
survey introduced in 2014. Since 2014 the methodology for employment data follows EU
standards. Alignment in public health statistics is very high for data relating to causes of death
and health surveys, whereas further progress is needed for data on health expenditure and nonmonetary
healthcare. Social protection statistics are partially aligned. Crime statistics are
available, as well as education and vocational training data. Data on residence permits, asylum
seekers and refugees is not yet sufficient to produce reliable migration flow tables.
In agriculture statistics, no agricultural census has been carried out since 2001. Animal
production, milk and dairy statistics are available, whereas data on wine and olive oil are
incomplete. Supply balance sheets are not yet available and the economic accounts for
agriculture are outdated. The farm registry has now been integrated with the agricultural
production and registration system, but coverage and availability of the agricultural labour
index and agricultural production data are in need of considerable improvement. Further work
is needed to strengthen the coordination between the NSO and the Ministry of Food,
Agriculture and Livestock and to revise the strategy for improving agricultural statistics to
allow for progress in setting up a farm register.
As for environment statistics, further progress is needed, in particular in agricultural and
construction waste and data on environment-related taxes by economic activity. Environmental
accounts are at an early stage of introduction. Energy statistics are in line with the EU acquis.
Annual energy statistics and energy prices are available in good quality and are sent to
4.19. Chapter 19: Social policy and employment
EU rules in the social field include minimum standards for labour law, equality, health and
safety at work and non-discrimination. They also promote social dialogue at European level.
Turkey remains moderately prepared in this chapter. There was some progress during the
past year. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ remove obstacles limiting the full enjoyment of trade union rights and the functioning of the
bilateral and tripartite social dialogue;
→ oversee and monitor implementation of the labour law.
In the field of labour law, in May Turkey adopted legislation on temporary work, on-call and
distance work. Restrictions and prohibitions on the use of temporary agency work will have to
be justified on grounds of general interest to comply with acquis. A regulatory framework on
sub-contracting in the private sector in order to address the risk of poor working conditions,
unjustified dismissals and denial of trade union rights has still not been set up. The percentage
of unregistered workers was almost unchanged at 33.8 % in May 2016. Child labour persists,
including in its worst forms.
On health and safety at work, the full entry into force of the law to align Turkey with the
acquis in health and safety at work has been postponed once more, this time to July 2017. In
the mining sector, preventive measures need to be strengthened to reduce accident risks.
Occupational accidents continue to be a serious concern and claimed 1 626 lives in 2014. Child
workers continued to be victims of fatal accidents.
Social dialogue, both tripartite and bipartite, remains limited. The economic and social council
has been inactive since 2009. The percentage of unionised workers in the private sector, while
having marginally increased to 11.5 % in 2016, is still very low. In 2015 collective agreements
cover only 7.5 % of private sector employees, well below Member States' figures. Legislative
shortcomings such as double thresholds for collective bargaining and the lack of a right to
strike for public servants are contrary to European standards and ILO conventions. Informal
workers, retired and unemployed persons, and an overly wide range of categories of public
servants remain excluded from the right to organise. Many union protests and demonstrations
were prevented in the reporting period, disproportionately restricting trade union rights. Trade
union confederations have reported serious allegations about numerous dismissals, harassment,
retaliatory action, arrests and police assaults against trade union officials for legitimate trade
union activity. In the aftermath of the 15 July coup attempt, two trade union confederations and
their 19 member trade unions, totalling almost 50 000 affiliated workers, were closed by decree
under the state of emergency over alleged links to the Gülen movement. No information was
available on the precise charges laid against the confederations and the trade unions.
Employment rates were 75.3 % for men (aged 20 to 64) and 32.5 % for women (20-64) in
2015, having increased slightly from 75 % and 31,6 respectively, but women’s rates remain far
below the national target. The unemployment rate in 2015 increased further to 10.3 % (for
those aged 15 and over) and remains significantly higher for women. Youth (15-24)
unemployment rose to 18.3 % in 2015, and almost a third of all young people are not in
employment, education or training. Strong regional disparities persist in employment. State
subsidies (reduction in social security contributions and tax exemptions) to employers for
hiring additional young or women employees were extended to December 2020. The work on
the first employment and social reform programme has still not been completed.
As regards preparations for the European Social Fund, the Ministry of Labour and Social
Security is managing both the Human Resources Development Operational Programme under
the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) and the corresponding IPA II programme.
(Concerning the effectiveness of the management of IPA funds and the risk of de-commitment,
refer to chapter 22 — Regional Policy and Structural Instruments).
In the field of social inclusion and protection, Turkey is making commendable efforts to
address the additional strain on social infrastructure exerted by high numbers of refugees in
some provinces. A recently adopted national strategy and action plan on Roma citizens aim to
address the problem of low-skilled and low-status work and child labour. Contrary to recent
years, poverty indicators show no improvement in reduction of social inequalities. Severe
material deprivation persists, especially for Roma children, and it is higher in the eastern
regions. People with disabilities are at high risk of social exclusion and poverty; measures to
increase their employment have been ineffective. The public sector’s employment rate for
people with disabilities is around 2 %, well below its commitments. Turkey has taken important
steps to promote community living, but an integrated and comprehensive policy framework still
needs to be developed for social policies, services and assistance. Social protection expenditure
represents 14.3 % of the GDP, with almost half of it allocated to old age pensions. High
inactivity rates for women and high levels of undeclared labour pose a risk to the sustainability
of the pension system. Home-based carers have become a major component of Turkey’s care
system, but they lack professional training and incentives to pay social security premiums.
In non-discrimination in employment and social policy, the law on the human rights and
equality institution adopted in April grants the institution a mandate to identify and prevent
discrimination in access to employment, social assistance and social services. The institution is
however not yet operational. In addition, grounds for prohibited discrimination do not include
sexual orientation. (See chapter 23– Judiciary and fundamental rights).
In the field of equality between women and men in employment and social policy, women
continue to be predominantly employed in low-skilled jobs and their representation at
management levels is extremely low. The gender pay-gap remains problematic. Legislation on
part-time work for working parents has been adopted. The lack of institutions and services to
care for children, the elderly and sick people, including for long-term care, continue to hinder
women’s employment due to the gender bias for caring responsibilities (See also chapter 23).
4.20. Chapter 20: Enterprise and industrial policy
EU enterprise and industrial policy enhances competitiveness, facilitates structural change and
encourages an enterprise-friendly environment that stimulates small and medium-sized
Turkey has a good level of preparation in the area of enterprise and industrial policy. There
was some progress in access to finance, innovation strategy and entrepreneurial learning,
whereas the business environment, including tackling the informal economy, long-term
financing of SMEs and the legal framework for microfinance, need further improvement. In the
coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ improve policy compliance following the results of the Small Business Act process and
focus on measuring the impact of policy tools.
On enterprise and industrial policy principles, there was limited progress following the
adoption the previous year of a number of strategies. A monitoring and evaluation report on
industrial strategy showed progress mainly on policy instruments, i.e. the extension of support
services and funding to businesses, while action to improve the business environment and
better regulation has yet to be implemented. The SME Policy Index 2016 noted progress in
access to finance, innovation strategy and promotion of lifelong entrepreneurial learning.
Shortcomings were noted in the registration procedures for businesses, long-term financing of
SMEs and the legal framework for microfinance. The large informal economy remains a
concern for the overall business environment. Turkish legislation is not yet fully harmonised
with the late payment Directive. A sectoral strategy was adopted on the automotive sector and
seven innovation strategies were issued by different regional development agencies.
Regarding enterprise and industrial policy instruments, a specific industry cooperation
programme for healthcare services was published by the Ministry of Health under the general
‘industry cooperation programme’, providing for the option of offset agreements in public
procurement and a requirement for foreign bidders to work with Turkish companies. Although
efforts on delocalisation and the use of public procurement as an industrial policy tool
continued in general, no offset agreements were imposed in practice. The profile of the
Coordination Board for the Improvement of Investment Environment, the YOIKK, was
enhanced and its work methodology was streamlined. Turkey continued to support industrial
and technology development zones. There were 64 of these by December 2015 (up from 59 the
previous year) and 627 patents had been obtained from 19 322 completed projects (compared
with 384 patents from 14 194 projects in the previous period).
The performance in terms of international patent applications remains far below EU average.
Turkey continues to operate several public funding schemes for industrial development,
including extensive schemes run by the SME support administration, KOSGEB. The impact of
these schemes and their complementarity requires evaluation. The situation regarding access to
finance has improved. An industry web portal was set up covering manufacturing businesses in
29 subsectors. Turkey remains active in the Enterprise Europe Network.
4.21. Chapter 21: Trans-European networks
The EU promotes trans-European networks in the areas of transport and energy to strengthen
the internal market and contribute to growth and employment.
Turkey is well advanced in the area of Trans-European networks. There has been good
progress during the reporting period on transport and energy networks. Still, further efforts are
needed especially in developing bidirectional gas interconnections. In the coming year, Turkey
should work on the legal framework for operating its networks, in particular:
→ complete the establishment of the national transport master plan and transport information
→ fully align its electricity and gas network codes, including the existing provisions for transit,
with the acquis, and implement them;
→ increase institutional and human resource capacity.
As regards transport networks, agreement was reached in June to update the scope of
Turkey’s comprehensive transport network in accordance with the revised TEN-T guidelines.
There was also agreement with the EU on the scope of the core transport network. Turkey is
taking steps to draft a national transport master plan and set up a transport information
management system. The system will produce transport statistics to support decision making.
Regarding energy networks, good progress continued on electricity. The Turkish Electricity
Transmission Company (TEIAŞ) signed an agreement in January to become an observer
member of the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSOE).
This is an important step towards full integration with the EU’s electricity market. Efforts
on electricity interconnections with other neighbouring countries continued. There was good
progress in the field of gas networks, especially on the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline project
(TANAP): efforts are being made to finalise the project ahead of schedule. All major
procurement contracts have already been awarded, and negotiations on additional financing are
ongoing with international financial institutions. The Petroleum Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ)
tendered the construction of a gas interconnector between Turkey and Iraq in April. Feasibility
and technical studies are ongoing for a project on a bidirectional interconnector between
Turkey and Bulgaria. The stalled negotiations on the Russian-backed Turkish Stream project
have been reinitiated in August 2016. No progress was made on a fair and transparent gas
4.22. Chapter 22: Regional policy and the coordination of structural instruments
Regional policy is the EU’s main investment policy for sustainable and inclusive economic
growth. Member States bear responsibility for its implementation, which requires adequate
administrative capacity and sound financial management of project design and execution.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of regional policy and coordination of structural
instruments. Some progress was made in using IPA funds and in strengthening capacity for
programme implementation. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ focus on monitoring and supervision of ongoing operations in order to ensure
implementation of financial assistance by the set deadlines and deliver high quality results;
→ strengthen the national IPA coordinator’s and national authorising officer’s capacity to
coordinate operating structures and ensure effective strategic planning and risk management at
→ reflect in an update to the action plan the changes brought by the reformed EU cohesion
policy legislative framework.
There is some progress in the legislative framework. The General Declaration on the
Framework Agreement on IPA II and the Law on the Human Rights and Equality Institution of
Turkey were adopted between February and April 2016.
There is some progress on the institutional framework, with adoption of the set-up for IPA II
in December 2015. Three out of four operating structures (for environment and climate action;
competitiveness and innovation; and education, employment and social policies) have been
entrusted budget implementation tasks for IPA funds' management. The Commission has not
yet been able to obtain the assurance needed for a favourable opinion on transport.
There is some progress in administrative capacity, with 26 development agencies currently
In programming, progress is slow, with the preparation of a project pipeline still ongoing.
On monitoring and evaluation, there has been little progress regarding effective use of the
integrated monitoring information system that has been developed.
Concerning financial management, control and audit, the risk of de-commitment has been
significantly reduced, mainly because funds have been reallocated to the EU Regional Trust
Fund in response to the Syrian crisis. The risk of not using IPA funds before closure persists.
The operating structures continued to increase their capacity, but special attention should be
paid to the quality of tender documents.
4.23. Chapter 23: Judiciary and fundamental rights
The EU’s founding values include the rule of law and respect for human rights. A proper
functioning judicial system and effective fight against corruption are of paramount importance,
as is the respect for fundamental rights in law and in practice.
Turkey reached some level of preparation to implement the acquis and the European
standards in this area. However, there has been backsliding in the past year in particular in the
judiciary. Throughout the reporting period judges and prosecutors continued to be under strong
political pressure. Many were dismissed and in some cases arrested, on allegations of
conspiring with the Gülen movement. This situation worsened further after the July coup
attempt, with the dismissal of one fifth of the judges and prosecutors, which represents a
significant challenge to the overall functioning of the judiciary. The recent legal changes to the
structure and composition of high courts are a source of serious concern and undermine the
independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers. The track record on
anti-corruption remained insufficient, most notably in high-level cases. Corruption remains
prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem. On fundamental rights,
implementation of the action plan on preventing violations of the European Convention on
Human Rights (ECHR) remained limited. There has been serious backsliding in the area of
freedom of expression. There were renewed serious concerns particularly in relation to the antiterror
operations in the east and south east. Following the attempted coup of 15 July, a state of
emergency was declared under which measures curtailing fundamental rights were taken,
including in regards to pre-trial detention and freedom of expression. Developments in the area
of prevention of torture and ill-treatment, in particular after 15 July, are of serious concern.
There was no progress on the outstanding issues identified in previous reports. In the coming
year, Turkey should in particular:
→ restore and implement all legal guarantees to ensure full respect for the independence of the
judiciary including amending the law on the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK)
in order to reduce the executive’s influence within the Council;
→ take strong measures to ensure that the HSYK follows legal procedures guided by objective
criteria without undue influence from the executive powers with regard to the disciplinary
proceedings, dismissals and prosecutions of judges and prosecutors;
→ establish a track record of investigations, prosecution and final convictions in corruption
cases, in particular for high-level cases;
→ ensure in practice the full respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, in particular freedom
of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and implement measures to fight against
impunity and improve protection of minorities;
→ urgently ensure that any allegation of wrongdoing or crime is subject to due process based
on evidence and fully transparent procedures under the authority of an independent judiciary
and in full respect of fundamental rights, including procedural rights, notably as regards the
respect of the presumption of innocence, individual criminal responsibility, legal certainty, the
right to defence, the right to a fair trial, equality of arms and right to an appeal;
→ urgently address the recommendations of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the
Council of Europe of October 2016.
Functioning of the judiciary
The 2015-2019 Judicial Reform Strategy continued to be implemented. However, no measures
were taken to tackle key shortcomings on independence and impartiality. It is crucial that the
strategy be revised to address key outstanding problems and be implemented with the
involvement of all relevant stakeholders, including civil society.
No improvements can be reported on strengthening the independence of the High Council of
Judges and Prosecutors (HSYK). The Justice Minister’s right of veto, as ex officio President of
the HSYK continued to be a source of major concern. HSYK's official record of decisions on
investigations against judges and prosecutors is still not public.
Following the attempted coup of 15 July, five members of the HSYK were suspended and
Independence and impartiality
Throughout the reporting period, judges and prosecutors remained under strong political
pressure. Comments by representatives of the executive and the legislative branches on
ongoing judicial cases, challenging among others decisions taken by the Constitutional Court,
have continued as a regular practice. The HSYK continued to engage in large scale suspensions
and transfers of judges and prosecutors against their will, and had dismissed 13 of them by
early July. In the context of direct public criticism from the executive, the HSYK launched
several cases against prosecutors and judges dealing with high-profile cases. Such decisions,
especially on judges and prosecutors involved in high-profile cases, create a suspicion of
interference by the HSYK in their judicial tasks. Self-censorship appears to be spreading
among judges and prosecutors who are wary that any decision undermining the interests of the
executive may affect negatively their careers. Further safeguards still need to be introduced to
avoid any interference by the HSYK in judicial proceedings. Legal and constitutional
guarantees continue to be needed to prevent judges and prosecutors from being transferred
against their will, except where the courts are being reorganised.
Following the coup attempt of 15 July, the HSYK took large-scale decisions against judges and
prosecutors with alledged links to the Gülen movement. Within a week of the attempted coup,
3 508 judges and prosecutors were suspended, 2 386 judges and prosecutors were detained: 2
229 of first instance, 109 from Court of Cassation, 41 from Council of State, two members of
the Constitutional Court and five members of the HSYK. In August, the HSYK pronounced the
dismissals of 3 390 judges and prosecutors, representing one fifth of the total number (18 134).
Decisions were taken without an individual assessment being provided in all cases. One
professional association of judges established in 2005 was closed and its President dismissed
from the judiciary and detained on claims that the association, well-known for its independent
views, had links with the Gülen movement. HSYK took decisions at the beginning of October
to reinstate 198 judges and prosecutors who had lodged an objection to their dismissal. Turkey
should ensure that all allegations against judges and prosecutors are duly investigated and that
these cases are treated individually, in accordance with the law and in full respect of
A law changing the structure and composition of the Court of Cassation (CoC) and the Council
of State (CoS) was adopted in July, after having been rushed through without sufficient
scrutiny in Parliament or proper consultation of national or international stakeholders such as
the Venice Commission. The law provides for a complete overhaul of the two institutions,
with the term of office of all sitting CoC and CoS members expiring automatically and the
number of chambers and their members decreased. The law limits the tenure of judges to 12
years. The appointment of the 324 new members by secret vote was completed on 25 July.
These changes undermined the independence of the judiciary and legal certainty as well as the
principle of immovability. They are not in line with European standards in particular in regards
to the fate of outgoing CoC and CoS members, the timing of the selection of new members of
both bodies and the role of the President of the Republic in their selection. The extensive
changes to the CoC and CoS are of serious concern as they strengthen the perception of high
courts becoming instruments of the executive.
The ‘criminal judges of peace’ increasingly created an environment conducive to external
influence by the executive over the judiciary. These court institutions operate as a single judge,
who has powers to issue search warrants, detain individuals and seize property. Objections to
their decisions are not reviewed by a higher judicial body but by their peers i.e. by another
single-judge institution. Their rulings and decisions point to increasing divergence from ECtHR
On 1 September 2016, the new Judicial year was opened with a ceremony in the Presidential
Palace, which was perceived as putting into question the separation of powers and led to the
non-participation of the main opposition party and of the Union of Bar Associations.
Nearly all judges had declared their assets as required by law. Between October 2014 and July
2015, out of 256 complaints to the HSYK over lack of independence and impartiality,
investigations were initiated against 28 judges and prosecutors. Prior to the attempted coup, the
HSYK had approved the launching of criminal investigations against 54 judges and prosecutors
indicted on charges related to their alleged links to the Gülen movement. After the coup
attempt, the HSYK pronounced the dismissals of 3 390 judges and prosecutors. Due process
and procedural standards need to be applied objectively, independently and on an individual
basis, to both disciplinary and criminal cases against judges and prosecutors.
Basic provisions on conflict of interest do not apply to prosecutors. This should be remedied as
a matter of urgency. There is no dedicated code of ethics for Turkish judges and prosecutors.
Professionalism and competence
The Ministry of Justice continued to play a decisive role in the selection of candidates to
become judges and public prosecutors, even if officially the HSYK is the authority responsible
for processing appointments. The influence of the Ministry of Justice needs to be considerably
Following the large-scale dismissals of judges and prosecutors after 15 July, the appointment of
new recruits in large numbers – over 2 600 so far – has raised concerns about their professional
competence. Shortened pre-service training for newly appointed judges and prosecutors raises
some concerns about their capability to fulfil their new duties. Adequate training will need to
be provided as a matter of priority.
Quality of justice
In the reporting period, the Justice Academy continued to provide pre-service training of
candidate judges and prosecutors as well as on-the-job training. The capacity of the Academy
should be improved, taking into account the planned increases in the number of candidate
judges and prosecutors. Its capacity to deliver high-quality training also needs to be improved
and common training courses for judges, prosecutors and lawyers need to be developed.
A general derogation to the requirement of pre-service trainings in the Justice Academy was
applied to the large-scale recruitments that followed the coup attempt.
The budget of the judiciary is EUR 3.5 billion in 2015, representing 0.5 % of GDP and EUR
44.5 per inhabitant. According to comparative data of 2014 (CEPEJ 2016), Turkey belongs to a
group of seven European countries which dedicate less than EUR 25 per capita to their judicial
system when the average for Council of Europe states is at EUR 60 per capita.
Alternative dispute resolution continued to be seldom used. Further steps are required to
extend and promote alternative dispute resolution methods to help unburden the courts.
The quality of judicial decisions had improved in recent years but this positive development
risks being reversed following the significant dismissals and hasty recruitment of a large
number of judges. The regional courts of appeal established on 22 July, once fully operational,
should contribute to better consistency in case-law. However, the poor quality of indictments
has been a recurrent source of serious concern. Decisions on detention frequently lack proper
reasoning based on specific facts, evidence and grounds to justify the deprivation of liberty, as
required by law. The number of high-profile criminal cases referred from a city court to another
remote court increased in the past years. Such referrals complicate the exercise of the right to
defence. The extensive use of protected anonymous witnesses, particularly in cases related to
state security, continues to be a problem.
The Turkish judiciary is currently under severe pressure to handle the influx of cases in a
The ability of the judiciary to effectively perform its tasks in the aftermath of the coup attempt
can be put into question as a result of the large-scale dismissals. Close to 5 000 positions
remain to be filled.
The number of pending criminal, civil and administrative cases increased over the past three
years. For criminal cases the backlog increased from 144 678 in 2013 to 273 291 in 2015, for
civil cases from 115 340 in 2013 to 427 966 in 2015 and for administrative cases from 670 in
2013 to 29 435. There is a trend of a further sharp increase of the backlog in 2016. In 2015, the
clearance rate stood at 61 for civil and criminal cases at first instance and 64 for administrative
cases. The disposition time was 231 days for criminal cases, 218 days for civil cases and 182
days for administrative cases.
The number of individual applications submitted to the Constitutional Court in 2015 was 20
376. The number of individual applications pending for more than two years is 2 273, and the
number of closed files is 43 712. Since the procedure was set up in 2014, the court took
decisions on the merits of some 1 417 cases, rejected 19 582 cases and declared 22 713 cases
inadmissible. More than 47 000 new applications were introduced following the coup attempt,
including some 40 000 from individuals suspected of links to the Gülen movement.
Some steps were taken to introduce a reliable registration system and draw up indicators to
measure the justice system’s efficiency. Lengthy trials, especially those lasting more than five
years, often result in suspects being released without conviction, even in serious crimes cases.
Systemic solutions are needed to further address the excessive length of trials. Regarding
complaints on the length of judicial proceedings lodged with the Justice Ministry’s Human
Rights Compensation Commission, decisions were taken on 6 940 files out of 7 714 since
The court experts system should be revised. Excessive recourse to court experts by judges, the
low quality of expert reports and low fees remained problematic. A draft law to overcome these
issues is yet to be adopted. Court experts should be subject to cross-examination in practice.
Frequent changes to the internal organisation of judicial bodies and to the court network,
criminal courts in particular, risk impeding their efficiency.
The track record on anti-corruption remains poor, most notably in high-level cases. Prosecution
of high-level corruption cases, including corruption allegations against ministers and their
relatives from 2013 and the Deniz Feneri case did not produce any convictions. Corruptionrelated
convictions tried before the courts dropped from 4 612 in 2014 to 3 972 in 2015. In
2015, out of a total of 9 273 alleged criminal corruption cases, 3 972 resulted in convictions
(corresponding figures for 2014 were 18 065 and 4 612 respectively). Legal privileges granted
to public officials such as the requirement for prior authorisation from their administrative
hierarchy before starting an investigation, continued to provide a legal shelter for public
officials in anti-corruption criminal and administrative investigations. The perceived
interference by the executive in high-level corruption investigations significantly increased the
perception of corruption. Turkey registered a drop in Transparency International’s Annual
Corruption Perception Index by two points, moving from 64 to 66 least corrupt country in 2015.
As regards checks on asset declarations of public officials, in 2016 there have been 22
convictions from the prosecution of 113 alleged crimes as compared with 17 convictions from
the prosecution of 114 alleged crimes the year before. In 2015, the Council of Ethics for the
Public Service ruled on a violation of ethics in just seven cases out of 113 applications.
Political parties and independent candidates continued to be exempt from any financial
transparency regulation or oversight as Turkey has not yet implemented all GRECO’s
recommendations on the transparency of party funding. Consequently, the 2015 and 2016
elections took place in a legal and institutional context in which individual party and
independent candidates’ campaigns were not subject to any transparency regulations. Most
parties do not publish their accounts on their websites. The enforcement of ethics regulations
has been ineffective. In the case of investigations for corruption in public procurement, 3 051
criminal cases were opened in 2015 down from 9 007 in 2014. The number of convictions in
these cases was respectively 922 and 1 100.
The Prime Ministerial Inspection Board acts as a central inspection and supervisory body for
the inspection bodies in the public administration. The Prime Ministerial Communications
Centre (BIMER) continued to act as the main body in charge of reporting on corruption and
maladministration. In 2015 alone, the Centre received about 600 000 complaints, 95 % of
which were submitted online or through a hotline. In the absence of a functionally independent
anti-corruption body, the cooperation between the inspection boards, the Turkish Court of
Accounts (TCA) and the public prosecution office needs to be strengthened. In 2015, the TCA
referred only six cases implicating corruption (17 in 2014) to the prosecution office.
On political party financing, the Constitutional Court supervision warrants further
improvements, in line with previous GRECO recommendations. Further legal and
administrative regulations are needed to ensure transparency and timely review and disclosure
of audit reports.
On prevention of conflicts of interest, the enforcement of ethics regulations continued to be
ineffective. Ethics boards have been established in all ministries but the Council of Ethics for
Public Service continued to lack the capacity to coordinate and monitor their work. Turkey
recently adopted common ethical rules for border management authorities. The existing system
of assets declarations continued to be ineffective due to the limited scope of such declarations,
the arrangements for checking them and transparency measures preventing their disclosure.
Protection of whistle-blowers needs to be strengthened in law and in practice to facilitate
reporting of corruption.
On the public’s right to free access to information, the Board of Review of Access to
Information continued to review applicants’ appeals in an effective way and to publish
decisions online. However, there is no quality assurance in the responses provided to
applicants. The failure to adopt pending legislation on state and trade secrets is preventing the
right balance from being struck between confidentiality and transparency in the work of public
institutions and officials.
The lack of specialisation within the judiciary to investigate corruption cases limits their ability
to prosecute them effectively. This was exacerbated by frequent moves of staff between
departments at prosecution and law enforcement agencies. Frequent changes to the legal basis
of protective measures in the criminal procedure code (i.e. interception of communications,
seizures, technical surveillance, etc.) continued to prevent an effective standard procedure in
corruption investigations from being established. Political interference in the work of
investigative and judicial bodies affects the delivery of justice, in particular in high-level
The Special Prosecutor’s Office still lacks a multi-disciplinary team with financial and
economic experts. Further legal empowerment and specialised training is needed so that the
office can carry out systematic and effective financial and legal investigations in corruption
cases. Publicly available judicial statistics on corruption are limited and there are no regular
corruption perception and detection surveys.
Inter-agency cooperation needs to be further developed. Cooperation between prosecutors
and police over pre-trial investigations, which is not yet working effectively, in particular due
to the absence of an independent judicial police, also needs to develop further.
The legislative amendments foreseen in the anti-corruption strategy, i.e. the Law on general
administrative procedure, the Law on public procurement, the code of ethics for members
of parliament and the Law on whistle-blower protection, are still pending.
Turkey has not yet fully aligned its legislation with the GRECO recommendations on
transparency in political party financing, incriminations and corruption prevention in respect of
parliamentarians, judges and prosecutors. Shortcomings remained in the corruption-related
provisions of the criminal code, which do not meet the standards put in place by the Criminal
Law Convention on Corruption. The shortcomings concern in particular the provisions on
bribery in the private sector; the criminalisation of unilateral acts of bribery and the special
defence of effective regret.
On the transparency of political financing, the legal framework should be amended to
guarantee that independent candidates and elected representatives are subject to the financial
checks and transparency regulations that apply to political parties during their campaigns in
line with the visa liberalisation roadmap.
Public procurement legislation is not in line with the EU acquis in a number of respects. Public
tenders remained corruption-prone largely due to various exemptions inserted into the
framework law, particularly for tenders at municipal level and for public private partnerships
for large infrastructure investments.
The regulations on conflict of interest for public officials remained fragmented over different
pieces of legislation. Whistle-blowers are obliged to rely on ad hoc provisions in the witness
protection law as there is no comprehensive law in either the public or private sector.
Turkey does not yet have a single Asset Recovery Office.
The 2010-2014 anti-corruption strategy and action plan failed to meet most of their initial
objectives. In April 2016, Turkey adopted a new ‘action plan for increasing transparency and
strengthening the fight against corruption’. The action plan is a step forward but remains
limited in scope as it focuses mainly on preventive and awareness-raising measures. Measures
include inter alia overhauling the rules on the financing of political parties, political ethics and
asset declaration; boosting the capacity of public financial control units; revising the system of
authorisation for investigations of officials.
The implementation of the action plan needs to combine transparency and inclusiveness with
civil society participation. There was no transparent and inclusive consultation process with
civil society or specialised organisations before the action plan was adopted. The document
does not contain impact indicators, nor are its costs calculated or a budget allocated. The newly
adopted 2016-2019 action plan needs to be implemented in an inclusive and participatory
fashion to address the outstanding challenges. Given the many preventive institutions and law
enforcement agencies involved in anti-corruption in Turkey, the country needs to strengthen its
overall capacity to coordinate, implement and monitor all anti-corruption action.
Turkey is party to most international human rights instruments. Following the attempted
coup of 15 July and the declaration of the state of emergency on 20 July, Turkey announced
that it was invoking Article 15 of the ECHR, which gives governments the possibility to
derogate in a temporary, limited and supervised manner from their obligation to secure certain
rights and freedoms under the Convention in times of emergency.
In the reporting period Turkey ratified protocol No. 7 to the Convention for the Protection of
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Convention for the Protection of Individuals
with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data and its Additional Protocol, the 1996
Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and
Cooperation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children;
the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms
of Family Maintenance.
The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Additional Protocols 4,
12 and 16 to the ECHR are yet to be ratified. In March Turkey signed the three Additional
Protocols to the CoE Convention on Extradition, and the 2001 Additional Protocol to the CoE
Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Protocol to the Convention on the
Transfer of Sentenced Persons was adopted and published in the Official Journal in February.
The instrument of ratification was deposited to the Secretariat of the CoE in April.
Since September 2015, the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has found one or
more violations of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in 75 cases relating
mainly to the right to life, prohibition of torture, right to liberty and security, right to a fair trial,
right to respect for private and family life, freedom of thought conscience and religion, freedom
of peaceful assembly, prohibition of discrimination and protection of property. A total of 2 075
new applications were allocated to a decision-making body, bringing the number of pending
applications to 7 982. The EU has called on Turkey to intensify its efforts to implement all
ECtHR judgments. Turkey has 938 cases under the enhanced supervision procedure.
In the Cyprus v. Turkey case, the issues of missing persons and restrictions on the property
rights of Greek Cypriots displaced or living permanently in the northern part of Cyprus are still
pending, as is the question of ‘just satisfaction’ (Grand Chamber decision of 12 May 2014).
Since the Demopoulos v. Turkey decision of 5 March 2010, 6 300 applications from Greek
Cypriot owners have been lodged with the Immovable Property Commission (IPC), 92 of them
between September 2015 and September 2016. In the same period, the IPC ruled to award
compensation in 140 cases. As of 29 September 2016, 772 applications have been concluded
through amicable settlements and 25 through formal hearings. The IPC has so far paid out the
equivalent of EUR 263 million in compensation. In a number of other cases, including XenidesArestis
v. Turkey, Demades v. Turkey, and Varnava and others v. Turkey, Turkey has yet to
fully execute the decisions.
On the promotion and enforcement of human rights, the National Human Rights Institution
was replaced by a National Human Rights and Equality Institution established in April 2016.
As its board members are not yet elected, cases of alleged violations are currently not being
followed up. This vacuum causes particular concern in light of the high number of alleged
violations in the aftermath of the attempted coup. While the new human rights institution has
the power to launch investigations of its own initiative into potential human rights violations, it
can no longer accept applications over human rights violations that are in the remit of the
Ombudsman. This has clarified the division of tasks between the two institutions but the
continued weakness of the Ombudsman’s office and the limited follow-up to its
recommendations in this field raise questions about the effectiveness of redress for potential
victims of human rights violations. The National Human Rights and Equality Institution is
responsible for non-discrimination policy. The new institution’s functional, structural and
financial independence has not been ensured in line with the Paris Principles and the EU
The Constitutional Court and other higher courts generally continued to follow ECtHR caselaw
in their rulings. However, there was limited implementation and no revision of the 2014
action plan on preventing violations of the ECHR. The second implementation report has been
prepared but the absence of public reporting undermines the accountability of institutions
responsible for implementation. The Venice Commission published three Opinions on Turkish
legislation concerning the criminal code, the internet law and the legal framework governing
curfews, which included recommendations for revising legislation.
The conditions for the activities of the human rights defenders have deteriorated throughout the
reporting period. They worsened further after the coup attempt and the declaration of the state
of emergency. There have been reports on cases of intimidation of individuals who tried to alert
on allegations of torture and ill-treatment.
Concerning the right to life, Turkey is a party to Protocol 13 of the ECHR abolishing the death
penalty in all circumstances. Public officials’ repeated declarations, including by the President,
following the attempted coup considering the possibility to reinstate the death penalty raised
concern. There is no comprehensive approach over missing persons, exhumation of mass
graves and independent investigation of all alleged cases of extrajudicial killing by security and
law enforcement officers. The statute of limitations on these cases is an impediment to justice.
There was backsliding on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment, especially in the
context of counter-terrorism operations in the south-east. Allegations of torture and illtreatment
are not properly investigated or punished, with few, usually overly lenient, sanctions
given. There continues to be a need to ensure prompt impartial and effective investigation of all
cases of alleged extrajudicial killings by security and law enforcement officers, including in the
context of counter-terrorism operations in the south-east. Impunity remains one of the core
problems. Turkey needs to align its legislation on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment
with the ECHR and with ECtHR case-law. The National Human Rights and Equality Institution
has taken over the role of national preventive mechanism, however, the institution has yet to
become operational. Concerns that the institution is not sufficiently independent bring into
question its ability to perform this duty effectively in line with requirements under the Optional
Protocol to the Convention against Torture. Given that torture is prohibited according to
Turkish legislation, it is all the more important that allegations are swiftly investigated and that
existing legal structures in Turkey that prohibit torture and-ill treatment are able to perform
their mandate. The fact that the existing prison monitoring boards have been disbanded and
reappointed during this period increases the risks inherent in this situation. Controversial
amendments to the Law on the personnel of the Turkish armed forces were adopted in June.
The amendments, which grant judicial privileges to military personnel and expand the armed
forces’ legal powers in domestic security operations, raise concerns as they may lead to
In May, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) found in its fourth periodic review on
Turkey that it had not received sufficient information on prosecutions for torture, including in
the context of ECtHR decisions and that despite ongoing investigations into torture and
excessive use of force by security officials, relatively few cases of sanctions and fines were
recorded. The CAT also expressed concerns about numerous credible reports of torture and illtreatment
of detainees in the south-east and demanded prompt, thorough and impartial
investigations into all such allegations. Turkey should urgently implement the CAT’s
recommendations and work constructively with the UN Special Rapporteur on torture.
There were also allegations of widespread cases of torture and ill-treatment in the immediate
aftermath of the coup attempt. The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of
Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) carried out an ad hoc visit
to Turkey from 29 August to 6 September 2016. The purpose of the visit was to examine the
treatment and conditions of detention of persons who have been detained in connection with the
coup attempt. In line with best practices and transparency requirements and in order to build
confidence in this sensitive area, the Turkish authorities are encouraged to authorise the
publication of such reports shortly after their inception. Cases of death in detention of arrested
persons following the attempted coup need to be thoroughly investigated. The prohibition of
torture and ill-treatment and procedural rights of suspected and accused persons need to be
fully observed in law and in practice, in line with the country’s international obligations, in
particular the European Convention of Human Rights.
As regards the prison system, prison staff members continued to receive training on Council of
Europe standards and human rights. The shortage of psychologists, social workers and
sociologists negatively affects the rehabilitation of inmates. Civil society and professional
organisations are not allowed to be involved in rehabilitation and probation. Solitary
confinement and arbitrary practices are often used as disciplinary sanctions.
Following the July coup attempt, a large number of suspects were detained in irregular
locations without appropriate detention conditions and serious impediments to their procedural
rights according to European standards were reported. There was a sharp rise in the prison
population and prison overcrowding reached very worrying limits. A Law Decree amending the
Law on Enforcement of Sentences in August resulted in the release on probation of around 40
000 inmates in order to create room in prison facilities to deal with detained and sentenced
persons suspect of implication in the coup attempt. Following their release, there were 192 181
people for some 180 000 places in the penal institutions, of which 59 819 are detained and 132
362 convicted as of 9 September 2016. The prison population rate has grown to over 200 per
100 000 inhabitants which is a high figure among Council of Europe states.
The data protection law adopted in March is Turkey’s first specific piece of legislation in this
area. It provides for the establishment of a Data Protection Agency, with a nine-member board.
Of its members, five are to be selected by Parliament, two by the President and two by the
Council of Ministers. The Personal Data Protection Agency will be affiliated to the office of the
Prime Minister. The newly adopted law contains an extensive list of exceptions in particular the
exclusion of national defence, national security, public security, public order and economic
security as well as processing of personal data by judicial and law enforcement authorities from
its scope of application. Further exclusions apply to investigations and prosecutions, as well as
criminal and execution proceedings. The law represents progress, compared with the previous
situation in which no legislation existed on this matter. However, it is not in line with current
EU acquis in particular as the provisions on the composition and the functioning of the
authority in charge of supervising the use of personal data do not provide assurances for it to
act in a completely independent manner, and because the activities of the law enforcement
agencies and judicial authorities are not entirely covered by the obligation to respect the
personal data protection rules. Turkey should align the legislation on personal data protection to
EU acquis notably to ensure that the data protection authority can act in an independent manner
and that the activities of law enforcement agencies fall within the scope of the law. The
Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal
Data was ratified in May. Turkey ratified in July the Additional Protocol to the Convention for
the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (ETS 181)
which concerns supervisory authorities and trans-border data flows.
On freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of worship continued to be
generally respected. Insulting religion and blasphemy are criminal offences. In January, the
government submitted two action plans to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on
the implementation of ECtHR decisions on Cem Houses and two decisions on compulsory
religion classes. A comprehensive legal framework in line with ECtHR rulings, CoE
recommendations and EU standards needs to be put in place and consistently implemented.
Particular attention should be given to implementing the ECtHR judgments on the exemption
from compulsory religion and ethics classes, indication of religious affiliation on identity cards
and Alevi worship places. Other pending issues are: legal personality of religious bodies and
institutions; rules on participation in religious elections, and work and residence permits for
foreign clergy. Turkey is the only member of the Council of Europe that does not recognise the
right to conscientious objection for conscripts. Outstanding issues concerning the Alevi
community need to be tackled, including the implementation of several ECtHR judgments.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate received no indication from the authorities that it may use the
‘ecumenical’ title freely. Venice Commission recommendations on this issue are yet to be
implemented. No steps were taken to open the Halki (Heybeliada) Greek Orthodox Seminary.
There were reactions triggered by the controversial use of the Hagia Sophia, which is
a museum situated within a listed UNESCO world heritage site, for marking religious
celebrations. The Armenian Patriarchate’s proposal to open a university department for
Armenian language and clergy has been pending for several years. Similar demands have been
made by different Christian communities who sought to train clergy. Similar problems exist
over the construction of places of worship. Hate speech and hate crimes against Christians and
Jews continued to be repeatedly reported (see below — minorities). Inter-religious dialogue
remains an important element in this area.
Freedom of expression
There was serious backsliding on the freedom of expression. The authorities took further action
to curtail freedom of expression. Measures taken against media representatives, in particular in
relation to the coup attempt have increased concerns. In addition, the scope of actions taken by
decree-laws under the state of emergency has been broadened to pro-Kurdish and opposition
The high number of arrests of journalists after 15 July is a serious concern. Due process, the
right to fair trial and the respect of the principle of the presumption of innocence should be
guaranteed. Prior to the 15 July coup attempt, there were 36 journalists in prison, many of
whom were charged with crimes under the anti-terrorism law. In the aftermath of the coup
attempt, by the end of October, some 90 journalists were arrested bringing the total to more
than 130, many of whom face charges under Art. 6 of the anti-terror law. The number of
detentions, judicial prosecutions, censorship cases and layoffs soared. Since July 15, more than
2,500 journalists have lost their jobs. The criminal investigation launched in June 2015 against
a critical newspaper and its editor-in-chief over publication of documents on arms deliveries
allegedly conducted by the National Intelligence Service to Syria resulted in prison sentences
of five years (under appeal). The undue pressures and at times openly hostile climate in the area
of freedom of expression became evident in the public assassination attempt on the said editorin-chief
during his trial. In October, the new editor in chief and several writers of the same
newspaper were also detained for alleged links to terrorist organisations.
Takeovers of media groups by the Government continued. Trustees modified the editorial
policy, while numerous journalists were laid off. One such media group was closed down five
months after a board of trustees was appointed. In the aftermath of the coup attempt, the
government issued decrees-laws ordering the closure of TV channels and radio stations,
predominantly for alleged links to the Gülen movement. However the closures and suspensions
extended to a number of channels broadcasting in Kurdish language, one Alevi channel and
some opposition channels. By the end of October, 46 TV channels and radios stations, five
news agencies, 55 papers and 18 magazines were closed, while arrest warrants were issued
against some 90 journalists, access to more than 20 news websites was blocked and the licences
of 29 publishing houses were revoked. Among these, 23 out of 39 TV channels and radio
channels broadcasting in Kurdish language, as well as several newspapers in Kurdish language,
have been closed. The proportionality and alignment with international standards of those
restrictive measures, including in times of emergency, is questionable.
Politicians continued to publicly condemn and intimidate journalists, editors, academics and
human rights defenders for their critical views. The increased use of hate speech by officials
including senior representatives of the state is a major concern. Several papers faced repeated
refusals of accreditation for government events. There were cases of foreign journalists facing
difficulties in exercising their profession in Turkey, such as through deportation, being refused
entry and being refused renewal of accreditation.
Requests to the Ministry of Justice for permission to launch investigations over insults to the
President under Article 299 of the criminal code increased from 56 cases in 2014 and 1 653
cases in 2015, to 1 867 cases in 2016. As of 1 September 2016, 59 persons were detained on the
basis of this article, of which a (17-year-old) juvenile. The exponential increase in this practice
has been criticised by international institutions and recommendations have been made to curtail
the use of this article in line with the European consensus. As a gesture of goodwill in the
aftermath of the coup attempt, both the President and the Prime Minister have dropped a
number of compensation civil cases, but not for cases involving HDP politicians.
There was no revision of the provisions in the anti-terror law or the criminal code. Selective
and arbitrary application of the law, especially of the provisions on national security and the
fight against terrorism, is seriously limiting freedom of expression. Four members of the
‘Academics for Peace’, who in January 2016 signed a declaration condemning the security
operations in the south-east and calling for resumption of the peace talks, while falling short of
condemning the terrorist acts from the PKK, were arrested on charges of disseminating terrorist
propaganda. Many others have been subjected to both disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
The Internet Law and the general legal framework continue to enable the executive to block
content without a court order on an unduly wide range of grounds. The internet law as well as
the provisions on insulting the President, on defamation and Article 314 of the criminal code on
membership of armed organisations should be amended in line with the Venice Commission's
recommendations of March 2016.
Media blackouts were imposed in several cases. The ECtHR ruled in December 2015 that
Turkey violated the ECHR when the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB)
banned Twitter and YouTube in 2015 on grounds of terrorist propaganda. In the absence of
official statistics, civil society indicated that 110 846 websites had been banned, of which 2.6 %
on the basis of a court decision. In August, a decree taken under the state of emergency
replaced TIB with a new body, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority
(BTK), with wider powers to enforce restrictions on freedom of communications.
The Board of directors of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) is appointed by
the government which induces a risk of politicisation. Its independence needs to be protected
by law. Even though the Radio and TV Supreme Council (RTÜK) submitted reports on
detected violations to the Supreme Board of Elections, no comprehensive reports on its media
monitoring findings were published.
RTÜK continued to suspend and fine channels for broadcasting content that is ‘contrary to the
national and moral values of society, general morality and the principle of family protection’
and decided to take a number of channels off the air within the framework of the state of
emergency. These measures particularly affected independent channels and channels
broadcasting in the Kurdish language.
The state-owned Turkish Satellite Communications Company (TÜRKSAT) excluded more
than 30 TV and radio channels for spreading alleged terrorist propaganda. TÜRKSAT’s
decisions lacked solid legal grounds, with neither a court decision nor a licence cancellation by
There was backsliding on the freedom of assembly and association. While the Constitution
provides for freedom of assembly in general terms, other pieces of legislation continue to pose
serious limitations on the effective implementation of this right, including provisions under the
April 2015 internal security package. A number of demonstrations were seen as security
threats, many of which on the Kurdish issue, as well as on environmental protection or which
were considered to be critical of government policies. There was widespread use of excessive
force by the authorities against peaceful demonstrators in the reporting period. LGBTI marches
in Ankara and in Istanbul were again banned in 2016. The relevant ECtHR case-law on the
freedom of assembly needs to be implemented and the Law on meetings and demonstrations
urgently needs to be revised accordingly.
In the aftermath of the coup attempt, daily peaceful gatherings in support of the government
took place with logistical support from the authorities. In August, close to three million
citizens, including representatives of major political parties gathered in Yenikapi in a display of
unity against the attempted coup, while HDP was excluded. Several demonstrations critical
towards the government policy were banned in different provinces in the post-coup period.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association. However, in practice this is restricted.
There have been complaints from LGBTI, women’s and other rights-based associations that
excessive administrative burdens are imposed on them by the authorities. The legislation on the
freedom of association for national and foreign organisations and its implementation should be
brought in line with European standards. Provisions restricting registrations, procedures for
permissions and the functioning of associations need to be revised using clear implementation
criteria and applied in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner.
After 15 July, two trade union confederations and their 19 member trade unions, with almost 50
000 workers affiliated, were closed by a decree taken under the state of emergency over alleged
links to the Gülen movement. The decree also closed 1 229 foundations and associations.
On property rights, the implementation of the revised Law on Foundations for restitution of
properties was finalised. Overall, 1206 property claims were rejected, of which some are
pending either before local courts or at the ECtHR. Implementation problems were reported at
the offices of title deeds and local registry offices despite appropriate implementation circulars
issued by the government. The decisions on restitution of properties of non-Muslim minority
foundations taken in previous years were challenged by the Treasury through court cases. The
scope of the current legal framework needs to be broadened notably to cover foundations
currently managed by the state and properties of foundations transferred to third persons. There
were concerns over the government’s decision in March on expropriations and the destruction
of large parts of the Sur District in Diyarbakır.
Court cases on property restitution continued, including on ownership of the land on which the
Syriac Orthodox Mor Gabriel Monastery is built. Syriacs and Yazidis still faced difficulties to
register property. Latin Catholic churches still have neither legal personality nor foundation
status, making it impossible for them to register property or seek restitution. Problems were
reported for Greek nationals in inheriting and registering property, in particular following the
Turkish authorities’ implementation of the amended land registry law of 2012, which included
a measure to limit the acquisition of property by Greek nationals. The 2010 recommendations
of the Venice Commission on protecting property rights and education rights still need to be
fully implemented. The Council of Europe Resolution 1625 (2008) regarding property rights on
the islands of islands of Gökçeada (Imbros) and Bozcaada (Tenedos), needs to be fully
On non-discrimination, the new Law on the Human Rights and Equality Institution of Turkey
contains provisions prohibiting discrimination on a large number of grounds and is a step in the
right direction. There is still a need to adopt a fully comprehensive dedicated law on combating
discrimination in line with the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, including with regards
to sexual orientation. Turkey is encouraged to swiftly ratify Protocol 12 ECHR providing a
general prohibition of discrimination. This would strengthen legal certainty. The National
Human Rights and Equality Institution needs to be rapidly established and start processing
cases of discrimination.
The criminal code is incomplete concerning hate crime and is not fully in line with best
practices at international level. Turkey should take account of the recommendations of the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance of the Council of Europe in this field.
Moreover, the provisions do not cover hate offences based on ethnic origin or sexual
orientation. Non-discrimination is not sufficiently enforced either in law or in practice and the
rights of minorities are not sufficiently upheld. Ethnic and religious groups and groups
promoting gender diversity continued to report cases of discrimination in society and
The legislative and institutional framework on equality between women and men is in place.
Some institutions continued to build up their capacity to combat violence and discrimination
against women through training. The private sector also stepped up efforts to address the issue.
Tax incentives supporting the creation of private nurseries and day-care establishments were
adopted in August. However, discrimination against women and gender-based violence were
not sufficiently addressed owing to weak implementation of the legislation, low quality of
services available and the weak political commitment to gender equality, exemplified by
frequent public statements emphasising gender stereotypes and promoting the traditional role of
women. Since Turkey’s ratification in 2014 of the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on
preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, the country has not
taken any concrete steps to harmonise its domestic legislation with the Convention and to raise
awareness. Further efforts to implement the existing law and national action plan on the
protection of family and prevention of violence against women are needed. Domestic violence
led to the death of 413 women in 2015. Female refugees, single women and pregnant women
remained vulnerable. Early and forced marriage continued to be a major concern, including
among the Syrian refugee population. Protection of women from violence and legal redress in
cases where victims pursue judicial proceedings remained insufficient. The number of women
who seek formal help or report to the justice system is still very low. Milder sentences for sex
crimes are justified by ‘consent’, ‘undue provocation’ and ‘appearing older’. No system for
collecting comprehensive data on gender-based violence exists. Shelters for victims of
domestic violence increased their capacity, but they still need to be developed further. There is
very limited administrative follow-up to cases of domestic violence and no link with social
There was limited progress in overall policy, legislation, coordination and monitoring on the
rights of the child. Due to the introduction of child-specific procedures and outreach efforts,
the special Ombudsperson received more complaints directly from children. There was a highlevel
commitment to education for Syrian refugee children which should be extended to other
refugees and vulnerable groups. However, the implementation of the 2013 national children’s
rights strategy and action plan remained poor. No national strategy is in place to prevent
violence against children nor is an effective system of monitoring rehabilitation centres and
institutions in place. Research on sexual abuse and ill-treatment of children is insufficient. A
parliamentary committee to examine child sexual abuse was established but more efforts are
needed to effectively prevent and punish child abuse. In July, the Constitutional Court's ruling
to annul a provision that punishes all sexual acts against children under the age of 15 as “sexual
abuse”, caused outrage from academics and human rights activists who warned that the
decision would lead to cases of child abuse going unpunished. The court set a 6-months
deadline for the legislation to be clarified in this regard and the government is advancing
On juvenile justice, the average duration of trials in the juvenile courts decreased. However,
juvenile courts have not been established in all provinces and more than half of juvenile
offenders continue to be tried in non-specialised courts. Juveniles continued to face arrest and
detention on charges of membership of terrorist organisations. The number of children in pretrial
detention increased. As of 9 September, there were 2 419 juveniles in penal institutions of
which 12 were held for terror-related crimes. The quality of legal aid for juveniles and
rehabilitation activities is a matter of concern. There were reports of torture, ill-treatment and
sexual abuse of juveniles in detention. On occasions juveniles were kept in wards for adult
inmates, contravening international standards. Further efforts are needed to ensure that justice
for children is effectively implemented and that no derogations from international standards are
On the rights of persons with disabilities, the new law establishing the Human Rights and
Equality Institution confirms the prohibition of direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of
disability. However, certain laws in place still work against the principles enshrined in the UN
Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities. The number of disabled pupils in primary
and secondary education continued to increase but access to higher education remained
a problem and ‘lifelong learning’ opportunities were limited. The illiteracy rate among disabled
persons is high. Accessibility of public services and buildings for persons with disabilities
remained a widespread problem. Existing fines and the 2018 deadline in the transport sector for
fulfilling accessibility criteria need to be complemented by public awareness-raising campaigns
and appropriate incentives. There is a lack of quantitative and aggregated data on participation
by persons with disabilities in economic and social life. Significant shortcomings persist over
the integration and empowerment of persons with disabilities with respect to their environment,
social attitudes and quality of services. Lack of early and suitable diagnosis limits early access
to appropriate services for many children with disabilities or developmental delays. Turkey still
has no mental health law and no independent body to monitor mental health institutions.
There are serious concerns with regard to fundamental rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons. The new Law on the National Human Rights and
Equality Institution does not explicitly include sexual identity and sexual orientation among
grounds for discrimination. In the military disciplinary system, homosexuality is still defined as
a ‘psychosexual disorder’ and in the military’s medical regulation as an illness. An antihomophobia
march was banned in Ankara in May. The June LGBTI movement pride parade in
Istanbul was not allowed to go ahead for the second consecutive year. Intimidation and
violence against the LGBTI community increased including the killing of at least two persons.
LGBTI organisations who came under threat from fundamentalist terrorist groups did not
receive protection from the government. Hate crimes, attacks and murders as well as police
violence against transgender people and activists are a source of serious concern. There is no
specific legislation against these crimes. Some media outlets promote hate speech against
LGBTI persons. The law suits filed by LGBTI persons in such cases usually do not result in
effective investigations or sanctions by the judiciary. Discrimination over the right to
employment on the basis of sexual orientation remains widespread.
Issues of labour and trade union rights are covered in chapter 19.
Some aspects of procedural rights are guaranteed by law, including legal aid and the right to
translation and interpretation in criminal matters, but the legislation needs to be aligned with
European standards. Furthermore, these rights have been severely violated in practice, in
particular in the context of anti-terrorism operations and in the wake of the attempted coup,
when access to a lawyer was in many cases not guaranteed and information on charges not
always communicated in due time. It is a concern that the decrees adopted under the state of
emergency provide for important restrictions to the right of defence, such as limitations to
confidential communication between pre-trial detainees and lawyers through recording of the
meetings, as this presents risks for the right to a fair trial and leaves detainees vulnerable to illtreatment.
There are reports that lawyers are, due to perceived personal risks, refusing to take
up or adequately pursue the cases of alleged coup plotters which results in further practical
impediments to fair trials. Legal aid is provided by law in listed cases and access to it needs to
be broadened. Turkey should consider adopting specific legislation on the victims' rights.
The dialogue between the government and representatives of minorities continued. A positive
judgment was issued in a lawsuit against the Grey Wolves Organisation in Kars on charges of
hate speech against Armenians. However, hate speech and threats directed against minorities
remained a serious problem and long delays in cases where religious representatives or their
property were attacked amount to impunity. School textbooks need to be revised to delete
remnants of discriminatory rhetoric. There is still no regulation on election procedures for nonMuslim
foundations after the previous regulation was annulled in 2013. This continued to
prevent minority foundations from electing board members.
The increased representation of smaller ethnic and faith minority groups in Parliament in the
June 2015 elections, although still symbolic in numbers, was confirmed at the November 2015
elections. The positive steps of the previous education year regarding teacher recruitment and
state subsidies for minority schools were not duly implemented in the reporting period. The
second church in Istanbul has not been opened yet despite requests by the Syriac Orthodox
community. The main case launched in connection with the assassination of Armenian
journalist Hrant Dink in 2007 was combined with new indictments against 27 public officials.
Several people including law enforcement officials were also arrested in connection with this
case; their indictement is pending. The penal case related to the killings of three Protestants in
2007 has ended in September with life time convictions for the five accused persons pending
appeal. The Turkish authorities continued to respond strongly and systematically whenever the
1915 events were recognised as genocide abroad.
In April the government adopted a 2016-2021 national strategy and 2016-2018 action plan for
Roma which is a positive step forward. The strategy addresses key obstacles to the social
inclusion of Roma and lays down measures in various fields, including housing, education,
employment and health. Turkey needs to start implementing the strategy and set up a
monitoring and evaluation mechanism. Preliminary work started on a comprehensive survey on
the situation of the Roma in Turkey but overall there is a lack of quantitative, qualitative and
comparable data on Roma. Turkey appointed its contact point for the Roma Integration 2020
Initiative and needs now to step up its engagement.
Access to health services continued to improve, while medical services were largely accessible
for Roma families. Procedures for the Roma to obtain civil documentation are cumbersome and
should be made easier. Roma groups continued to face discrimination in social and economic
life and in accessing employment and quality education. Absenteeism in school remained high,
including in compulsory primary education, and child labour is a major problem in the Roma
community. Urban development projects continued to disadvantage the Roma by depriving
them of traditional job opportunities and solidarity networks. A significant court case was
brought over the 2010 campaign to lynch and evict Roma.
On cultural rights, the Government still did not legalise the provision of public services in
languages other than Turkish. The teaching of optional courses in Kurdish in public state
schools was maintained.University programmes in Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac and Zaza continued.
The Mesopotamia Foundation established in Diyarbakır started preparations to open a Kurdish
language university. However, legal restrictions on possibilities for mother tongue education in
primary and secondary schools remained in place. Education in mother tongues other than
Turkish is not allowed apart from in minority schools recognised under the Lausanne Treaty.
Kurdish-teaching schools in Diyarbakır and Nusaybin were closed down as they could not be
formally registered. The Turkish authorities' decision to close a number of media outlets
publishing or broadcasting in Kurdish language and on Alevi culture is a source of concern.
4.24. Chapter 24: Justice, freedom and security
The EU has common rules for border control, visas, external migration and asylum. Schengen
cooperation entails the lifting of border controls inside the EU. There is also cooperation in the
fight against organised crime and terrorism, and judicial, police and customs cooperation.
Turkey is moderately prepared in the area of justice, freedom and security. There was good
progress in the past year, in a difficult environment. Turkey continued making considerable
efforts to provide massive and unprecedented humanitarian aid and support to a continuously
increasing influx of about 3 million refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries, including by
broadening the legislation on temporary protection and enabling access to the labour market.
Turkey adopted reforms aimed at meeting all the requirements of the visa liberalisation
roadmap. This led the Commission to propose putting Turkey on the list of countries with no
visa requirements on the understanding that Turkey meets the seven remaining benchmarks of
the visa liberalisation roadmap.
In their joint statement in March, the EU and Turkey reconfirmed their shared commitment to
end irregular migration from Turkey to the EU, to break the business model of smugglers and
offer migrants an alternative to putting their lives at risk. Implementation of the March
statement delivered many of its expected results but success remains fragile so far.
For the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ continue implementing the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March;
→ implement the EU-Turkey readmission agreement in all its provisions;
→ align the legislation on personal data protection with European standards and accordingly
negotiate an operational cooperation agreement with Europol;
→ revise its legislation and practices on terrorism in line with the ECHR, the ECtHR case-law
and the EU acquis and practices, without reducing the capacity of Turkey to fight terrorism.
The proportionality principle must be observed in practice (See also specific recommendations
on the fight against organised crime in section 2.3)
Legal and irregular migration
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
Following the entry into force in 2013 of the Law on foreigners and international protection,
the General Directorate for Migration Management (DGMM) continued to increase its capacity
and consolidate further its presence in the provinces of Turkey. Currently, the DGMM has 365
staff centrally and 2 540 in the provinces. In addition, 100 people will be posted overseas.
Recruitment and training processes continued throughout the reporting period. In March 2016,
the by-law implementing the Law on foreigners and international protection entered into force.
The DGMM continued to expand its capacity to accommodate irregular migrants. Currently
Turkey has 18 removal centres with a total capacity of 6 670 while the DGMM is planning to
construct 12 more removal centres which would increase the existing capacity by 4 820.
Another six removal centres are to be constructed with EU funding. DGMM has initiated work
on a national monitoring system to ensure regular oversight of conditions and access to
protection measures for migrants in the removal centres. Turkey needs to establish sufficient
capacity including staff and procedures to identify and treat vulnerable asylum seekers
including those with special needs.
The Strategy Document and the National Action Plan on irregular migration approved in March
2015 was launched in November 2015. A bilateral readmission agreement with Pakistan
entered into force in April 2016. Bilateral readmission agreements were signed with Nigeria,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Yemen, Montenegro, Kosovo and Norway but entry into force is pending.
Negotiations for a readmission agreement are ongoing with Switzerland and Afghanistan.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Turkey continued to be a major first reception and transit country for irregular migrants from
Asia and Africa heading to Europe. Over the reporting period, a large number of refugees and
irregular migrants mostly (but not only) fleeing the conflict in Syria have been transiting
through Turkey on their way towards the European Union. Illegal border crossings reached
unprecedented numbers in 2015. In 2013 and 2014, the numbers of people who arrived in the
EU directly from Turkey were 25 121 and 52 994 respectively. In 2015 this number increased
to 888 457, an almost 16-fold increase. Around 98 % of irregular entries occurred via the Greek
islands from the nearby Turkish Aegean coast, often facilitated by smugglers. The remaining
2 % were people crossing Turkey’s land border with Greece and Bulgaria. According to the
Turkish authorities, more than 146 485 people were intercepted in 2015 while crossing the
border illegally, an increase of 150 % from 2014. At least 806 irregular migrants died or went
missing between Greece and Turkey in 2015, according to the International Organization for
Migration. This number was 413 in 2016 until the end of September. Human losses at sea
decreased sharply from 366 in the three months before the activation of the Statement (January
to March) to 47 in the six months following its activation (April to September). Most of those
who crossed the borders illegally continued their journey within the EU, eventually applying
for asylum in an EU Member State.
Irregular arrivals from Turkey to Greece fell sharply after the activation of the Statement. After
an extraordinary increase in 2015 – according to Frontex figures, the number of irregular
crossings from Turkey to the EU rose from 52 994 in 2014 to 888 457 in 2015 – the trend was
reversed after the activation of the EU-Turkey Statement in March 2016. Of 164 389 irregular
crossings in 2016 until the end of September, 141 753 took place in the period preceding the
activation of the Statement (January to March), and only 22 636 occurred following the
activation of the Statement (April to September). The daily average of irregular crossings fell
from 1 794 in the period from January to the activation of the Statement to 116 from its
activation to the end of September. The decrease was partly due to the intensified work by
Turkey’s law enforcement agencies to prevent irregular departures from coastal areas and
measures restricting the free movement of people seeking international protection and people
under temporary protection to the provinces to which they had been assigned, in combination
with the implementation of a return scheme from the Greek islands that contributed to break the
business model of smugglers.
Turkey continued to develop its administrative capacity to implement the EU-Turkey
readmission agreement, which entered into force in October 2014 for Turkish nationals.
Implementation of the agreement for Turkish nationals remained nevertheless unsatisfactory as
the provisions of the agreement were not observed in a systematic and coherent manner by all
Turkish diplomatic missions in the EU. Turkey ratified the advanced entry into force of the
third-country provisions of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement as of 1 June 2016.
However, Turkey stated that it will not implement the third-country provisions of the
agreement until the EU confirms that the remaining visa liberalisation benchmarks have been
fulfilled. The Turkish Council of Ministers decision allowing for the application of the EUTurkey
provisions for third-country nationals is still pending and more than 1 000 readmission
applications from Bulgaria, Greece, France and Germany remain unanswered so far. Full and
effective implementation of the readmission agreement towards all Member States is crucial
and one of the benchmarks in the visa liberalisation roadmap.
The implementation of Turkey’s existing bilateral readmission obligations towards Greece
improved as the acceptance rate of readmission requests sent by Greece in the framework of its
bilateral agreement with Turkey increased substantially during the first half of 2016. However,
as of June 2016, Turkey stopped responding to readmission applications for irregular migrants
on the Greek mainland. Turkey then responded positively in October to 32 readmission
requests submitted by the Greek authorities in the framework of their bilateral agreement, but
96 cases submitted since 1 June remain unanswered.
Since the activation of the EU-Turkey Statement of 18 March, return operations from Greek
islands to Turkey are carried out on the basis of commonly agreed readmission lists. Turkey
considers these returns to occur strictly under the political commitments of the EU-Turkey
Statement and not under its obligations deriving either from the EU or its bilateral readmission
agreement with Greece. Cooperation has been smooth, facilitated by liaison officers deployed
by each party to their counterpart authority. Following the coup attempt of July, Turkey
withdrew its liaison officers from the islands. New liaison officers were appointed in October
Turkey does not readmit third-country nationals from Bulgaria as, on the one hand, in 2012
Turkey unilaterally stopped implementing its bilateral border agreement of 1967 with Bulgaria,
and on the other it is not implementing yet the third-country provisions of the EU-Turkey
readmission agreement, pending a decision of the Turkish Council of Ministers. Since June,
Bulgaria submitted more than 800 readmission applications for third-country nationals.
However, Turkey has not processed these applications under either the bilateral or the EU
agreement. Pending the full implementation of the EU-Turkey readmission agreement, Turkey
and Bulgaria agreed in September on a practical way to deal with third-country nationals
requests for return to Turkey on the basis of commonly agreed lists; according to this
arrangement the deadline for reply is 14 days. Procedures are still ongoing.
Turkey has at the same time become a major destination country for regular migration. At the
end of 2015, 422 895 non-Turkish nationals held a temporary residence permit in Turkey, up
from 379 804 in 2014. The Law on International Labour Force adopted by the Turkish
Parliament in July 2016 introduced simplified procedures for work permits. A new work permit
system called 'Turquoise Card' has been introduced aiming to attract qualified labour force into
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
Under the Law on foreigners and international protection, the DGMM is responsible for all
refugee status determination procedures (including registration and documentation) and related
decisions. While Turkey retains the geographical limitation to the 1951 Geneva Convention,
the DGMM performs its tasks for all asylum applicants, regardless of their country of origin.
The DGMM is bound to carry out international protection status determination and
administrative procedures within specific timeframes. Its provincial branches started to register
asylum seekers and to process their applications. Local branches of the Turkish national police
continued to assist the DGMM with the registration. There are currently 62 'satellite' cities in
Turkey where asylum seekers, conditional refugees as defined by the Turkish legislation and
Syrians under temporary protection are assigned to reside.
In January 2016, Turkey adopted a regulation giving Syrians under temporary protection access
to the labour market, although under some conditions and limitations. In particular, the law
gives Syrian refugees unrestricted access to seasonal work and jobs in rural areas. The
Regulation on temporary protection was amended in April 2016 to ensure that Syrians returned
from Greece to Turkey who were not previously registered as beneficiaries of temporary
protection or had lost their status due to their irregular departure from Turkey could be granted
temporary protection status upon their return from Greece. In April 2016, Turkey issued a
regulation expanding access to the labour market to all applicants and beneficiaries of
international protection in Turkey. This was confirmed in the Law on International Labour
Force adopted by the Parliament in July 2016. Accordingly, all applicants for international
protection including applicants for conditional refugee status and persons under temporary
protection as well as victims of human trafficking can apply for a work permit. International
protection applicants can enrol in the general health insurance scheme, register at public
schools and apply for social assistance.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Turkey is hosting about 3 million refugees, the highest number in the world. Turkey is making
commendable efforts to provide massive humanitarian aid and support to an unprecedented and
continuously increasing influx of people seeking refuge from Syria and the neighbouring
countries. Among the 60 different nationalities which have sought asylum in Turkey over the
years, Syrian refugees are by far the most numerous, followed by Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians and
Somalis. Around 2.7 million Syrians have been registered and granted temporary protection in
line with the regulation on temporary protection. Around 270 000 of them live in 26 camps
managed by the Disaster and Emergency Management Agency in ten Turkish provinces, while
more than 2.4 million live in host communities across the country. Only a limited number of
civil society organisations have access to provide services in the camps. As regards nonSyrians,
the latest available figures from UNHCR concerning the registered active caseload
(which includes registered refugees and asylum seekers) indicate that at the end of September
2016, Turkey ‘hosted’ 113 758 Afghans, 28 534 Iranians, 125 879 Iraqis, 3 905 Somalis and 8
290 classified as ‘others’. Out of these, UNHCR specifies that the persons having received the
status of conditional refugees in accordance with the Turkish Law on Foreigners and
International Protection were as follows: 3 472 Afghans, 5 994 Iranians, 25 295 Iraqis,
2 339 Somalis and 2 201 classified as ‘others’. In April, Turkey committed to reduce the
backlog of existing asylum applications by about 12 000 per month on average and to process
them all by the end of 2016. As of 21 September, Turkey had issued 66 746 positive decisions,
12 418 negative ones while 106 685 cases remained under review. Turkish legislation foresees
that all new asylum applications should be processed within six months from the date of
Non-Syrian migrants are subject to a dual asylum system. Newcomers must apply for asylum at
a DGMM Provincial Directorate of Migration Management (PDMM). They are also registered
by the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants on behalf of UNHCR.
Subsequently, the migrants are referred to a 'satellite' city and registered at the local PDMM.
Once registered, they receive the status of ‘international protection applicant’ (term used by
Turkish law to refer to asylum seekers). PDMMs issue an ID card for each applicant, which
legalises the person’s stay in Turkey. The ID number printed on the card grants access to a
number of rights such as access to a health insurance scheme, public schools and social
assistance. In October, about 630 000 Syrian children aged between six and 17 years remained
out of the national education system despite efforts to counter this phenomenon.
Turkey needs to further harmonise its visa policy with the EU common visa policy. Further
efforts are needed to align its legislation with the Visa Regulation, Visa Code and other
relevant EU legislation. This would include aligning Turkish visa requirements with the EU
lists of visa-free and visa-required countries, phasing out of the issuing of visas at the borders
and of e-visas and ensuring that the issuing of visas at consulates is carried out in line with the
conditions and procedures set out in the Visa Code. The practice of issuing visas at borders was
not yet fully discontinued. As of January 2016, Syrians travelling to a Turkish airport or seaport
coming from a third country are required to have a visa. This does not apply to Syrians entering
via land borders. In September 2015, Turkey re-introduced visa requirements for Libyan
citizens. In February 2016, the possibility for Iraqi citizens to obtain a visa at the borders was
abolished. Turkey continues to apply a discriminatory visa regime towards 11 Member States
including the Republic of Cyprus for which the e-visa system refers to the country option
Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus. In May, Turkey adopted a decree stating
that the citizens of all Member States will be able to enter Turkey as of the date of the lifting of
the visa requirement for Turkish citizens, thus ensuring the end of the discriminatory regime.
The Polnet integrated police database and the Konsolosluknet Ministry of Foreign Affairs
database have been connected with the DGMM’s Göçnet database.
The EU-Turkey visa liberalisation dialogue continued. The Commission issued its second and
third visa implementation reports in March and May 2016. Turkey made commendable efforts
to fulfil the benchmarks of the visa liberalisation roadmap. However, to date Turkey has not yet
fulfilled seven out of 72 benchmarks, some of which are of particular importance.
Schengen and external borders
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
Some progress was achieved in the area of external borders and Schengen. The adoption in
March 2016 of the Regulation on inter-institutional cooperation and coordination in the field of
border management was a step forward and applies both to border checks conducted at
designated border-crossing points and to border surveillance at land and sea borders. The
Border Management Implementation Board started functioning and adopted ethical rules for
border management authorities. The regulation also established the National Coordination and
Joint Risk Analysis Centre (NACORAC) with the aim to collect, to exchange and process data
on border security and to carry out joint risk analysis; NACORAC became operational at
central level. A similar set-up is needed at local level in the border provinces.
The agreement on a trilateral Common Contact Centre for Police and Customs Cooperation
between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria was ratified by Turkey on 10 March 2016; it was also
ratified by Greece in April 2016 and Bulgaria in February 2016. It should enter into force as
soon as possible.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
As required by the new border management regulation, some 80 local sub-governors and
deputy governors designated to work on the coordination of border-crossing points started
receiving in-service training on integrated border management. The monitoring functions of the
Border Management Implementation Board should be activated to identify needs for
improvement at borders. Intense inter-agency cooperation based on risk analyses is necessary
to improve effectiveness against cross-border crimes and smuggling networks.
The legislation on establishing a single organisation in charge of border security has been kept
on hold, mainly due to the instability in bordering regions.
The Ministry of Customs and Trade completed work on obtaining pre-arrival information and
conducting risk analysis. It also started the test phase by integrating 172 airline companies
(from among the 307 which conduct airline transportation to Turkey) and by receiving
passenger information from 214 airlines abroad. Data on more than 85 % of all international
incoming and outgoing passengers is shared with the DGMM. Nearly 300 officers were trained
to use this system. The customs administration conducts the risk analysis just for antismuggling
purposes. API/PNR (Advance Passenger Information/Passenger Name Record) data
should also be shared and analysed by the Turkish national police to efficiently identify risky
passengers and take measures accordingly. A ministerial directive defining airlines’
responsibilities was issued in November.
Both fixed and mobile border surveillance capacity was increased in the reporting period at
green (land) and blue (sea) borders, with new technology supplied and infrastructure
modernised. Demining of the eastern borders started in spring 2016. The capacity of the
Turkish national police to identify forged and falsified documents both at first and second line
checks needs to be further strengthened. The police needs to increase its checks in the transit
zone to detect attempts at irregular border crossings. The authorities in charge of border
management, in particular the Land Forces Command and Turkish national police, need to
deploy professional staff specialised in their respective domains in line with the new law on
On cooperation with neighbouring countries, Turkey advanced border cooperation with Greece
and Bulgaria with the ratification of a tripartite agreement on customs and police cooperation
which is expected to enter into force shortly. The Coastguard’s ‘Operation Safe-Med’ at the
eastern Mediterranean coasts and ‘Operation Aegean Hope’ continued during the reporting
period. Under the action plan for cooperation with Frontex, training is being delivered on data
collection and joint risk analyses. Cooperation intensified after the deployment of a Frontex
liaison officer in Turkey in April.
Judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters
The Law on international judicial cooperation in criminal matters was adopted in April 2016
and entered into force in May 2016. The Law covers mutual legal assistance, extradition,
transfer of proceedings, execution of sentences and transfer of sentenced persons, consolidating
international laws and regulations. It also sets out the duties and powers of both the national
judicial authorities and the Ministry of Justice as the central authority for execution. Between
February and April, the Parliament ratified: the second additional protocol to the European
Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters in April; three additional protocols to the
European Convention on Extradition; and the Additional Protocol to the European Convention
on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.
In 2015, EU Member States accepted 56 extradition requests from Turkey while Turkey
accepted five requests from EU Member States. EU Member States accepted nine transfers of
convicts to Turkey and Turkey accepted six transfers to an EU Member State. Turkey
participated in regular meetings of Eurojust and shared information and documents. However,
the personal data protection law is not yet in line with European standards, which prevented the
start of negotiations for a cooperation agreement with Eurojust.
On judicial cooperation in civil matters, Turkey is now party to most international
conventions in this area and ratified in October the 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction,
Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental
Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children and the 2007 Hague Convention on
the International Recovery on Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance; both
will enter into force in February 2017. Turkey has not yet ratified the European Convention on
the Compensation of Victims.
Fight against organised crime
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
The regulation on prevention, identification, fight, coordination and cooperation against human
trafficking entered into force in March 2016. It established an Anti-trafficking Commission
with a mandate to: prevent human trafficking; design policies and strategies concerning the
fight against this crime; prepare action plans; ensure coordination between public institutions
and organisations, international organisations and civil society organisations. However, much
remains to be done for full alignment with the acquis. In addition, the newly established AntiTrafficking
Commission has not defined yet its priority areas.
Turkey needs to improve its legislation on cybercrime and witness protection. Turkey is party
to the main international conventions in the field. Data protection legislation was adopted in
March but the legislation is not yet in line with European standards, as there are concerns over
the effective independence of the Personal Data Protection Agency and because it contains an
extensive list of exceptions on particular issues for processing personal data by judicial and law
enforcement authorities. As a result, Turkey cannot conclude an operational agreement with
Europol. A Turkish liaison officer has been stationed with Europol between May and
September 2016 when he was recalled following the coup attempt of 15 July. A new Liaison
Officer has been selected and will start in November 2016 (See also under political criteria).
The scope of the witness protection law continued to limit the application of witness protection
measures in some types of serious crimes. The respective roles of judicial and law enforcement
actors need to be set out more clearly to improve cooperation. Witness protection measures can
only be implemented after the witness testimony in the main hearing takes place. Legal
amendments need to be made to the law to address these shortcomings.
A new 2016-2021 strategy for combating organised crime and 2016-2018 action plan were
adopted in March 2016. The Ministry of the Interior will coordinate implementation of the
strategy and action plan.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Turkey has signed cooperation agreements for the fight against terrorism and crime with most
Member States with a view to share information and conduct joint operations.
The substantial number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) submitted to the Financial
Crimes Investigation Board in 2014 doubled in 2015. The number of requests from prosecutors
increased from 145 in 2014 to 239 in 2015. Despite the increase in the number of STRs and
requests from prosecutors, the number of convictions dropped from 172 in 2014 to 65
convictions for money laundering as a stand-alone crime in 2015. In 2015, Turkish law
enforcement authorities detained 108 003 suspects in connection with 73 017 drug-related
crimes and courts pronounced 95 505 convictions.
The new 2016-2021 strategy plan for combating organised crime and a 2016-2018 action plan
entered into force in March 2016. The Ministry of the Interior will coordinate implementation
of the strategy and the action plan.
According to DGMM, 122 victims of human trafficking were detected in 2016 compared with
108 in 2015. The number of victims staying in special shelters went up from nine in 2013 to
107 in September 2016. The 157 helpline for victims of trafficking operates on a 24/7 basis and
is available in different languages, including for international calls.
The National Cyber Security Council adopted a 2016-2019 strategy and action plan in February
2016. The Cyber Security Council is composed of undersecretaries from different ministries
and other relevant institutions. In addition, a more specific strategy and action plan are
currently being prepared by the Turkish national police and the Ministry of Development. 185
people were enrolled in the witness protection scheme, a stable number since 2015.
Fighting organised crime and corruption remains fundamental to countering the illicit influence
of criminal groups on the political, legal and economic systems.
Fight against terrorism
Institutional set-up and legal alignment
Turkey improved its rules on countering the financing of terrorism in line with Financial Action
Task Force (FATF) recommendations. However, further alignment of the legal framework and
enforcement of the rules are needed to comply with the revised FATF standards. The Council
of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from
Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism was ratified in February and transposed in the
existing legislation on money laundering and financing of terrorism in April, which should
facilitate cooperation at international level. The legal framework on money laundering,
financing of terrorism, freezing and confiscation of criminal proceedings is largely in line with
the standards set by the Convention. Nevertheless, Turkey still needs to make significant steps
forward, so that its framework is upgraded and implemented up to EU standards and fully
comply with the recommendations issued by FATF. Turkey’s legislation on terrorism and
corresponding implementation should be aligned with the ECHR, the ECtHR case-law and the
EU acquis and practices, without reducing the capacity of Turkey to fight terrorism. The
proportionality principle must be observed in practice.
Implementation and enforcement capacity
Turkey’s counter-terrorism dialogue with the EU continued actively, with specific attention
paid to foreign terrorist fighters. Turkey developed cooperation with Member States on
detecting foreign fighters wanting to cross Turkey to reach Syria or Iraq. There was a
substantial increase of suspicious transaction reports on terrorist financing in 2015 compared
with 2014, a trend which continued in 2016. However, police and judicial cooperation with EU
Member States and EU agencies in combating terrorism is limited due to the absence of a
personal data protection law in line with European standards and differences over the definition
of, and penalties for, terrorism.
Cooperation in the field of drugs
Turkey lies on the main transit route for drugs between Asia and Europe. Turkish lawenforcement
bodies conducted successful operations during the reporting period, which
resulted in the seizure of 53 682 kg of cannabis, 556 kg of cocaine, 8 294 kg of heroin,
5 673 901 ecstasy tablets and 15 083 735 captagon tablets. Seven operations were carried out
with five countries (United States, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Arab Emirates and
Italy). A total of 383 new psychoactive substances were included in the scope of the Law on
supervision of drugs as a result of the activities of the early warning system working group.
The Turkish national police substantially increased the number of sniffer dogs to 324 from 159
Narco-teams established in December 2014 to support the fight against drugs in high-risk areas
such as schools have been set up in 29 provinces (they were 11 in 2015). Turkey aims to have
such teams in place in all provinces by the end of 2016. The country reports annually to the
European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. There were 56 treatment centres in
2015. However, rehabilitation and treatment capacity needs to be further increased. A
nationwide survey of the population and schools needs to be carried out and capacity for data
collection and analysis needs to be strengthened.
Turkey adopted a new policy framework on drugs. The 2016-2018 national drugs strategy and
action plan entered into force in April 2016. Implementation is being coordinated by the
Ministry of Health.
For more information on customs cooperation, see also chapter 29 — Customs Union.
Counterfeiting of the euro, see chapter 32- Financial control.
4.25. Chapter 25: Science and research
The EU provides significant support for research and innovation. All Member States can
benefit from the EU’s research programmes, especially where there is scientific excellence and
solid investment in research.
Turkey’s preparations in the area of science and research are well advanced. Some progress
was made in the past year on its integration into the European Research Area (ERA). In the
coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ prepare a National ERA Roadmap and a National Research Infrastructure Roadmap;
→ strengthen the role of universities in the organisation of research and innovation, in
particular by stepping up cooperation with industry and SMEs.
Turkey participates in the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, as an
associated country. It has appointed an effective network of contact points and has
representatives in all Horizon 2020 programme committees. Based on recent statistics,
Turkey’s participation in Horizon 2020 has achieved good results but there is room for further
improvement, notably to increase participation in work on societal challenges, and to be
successful in the first pillar of Horizon 2020, scientific excellence.
Some progress has been made on strengthening research and innovation capacity at national
level and further integration into the European Research Area. Turkey has taken action to
encourage technology transfer (ERA action 4) but, overall, this policy action is not sufficiently
in line with ERA principles.
The level of investment in research has increased and stands at 1.01 % of GDP, which is below
the EU average.
Turkey has taken several measures to encourage innovation and cooperation between academia
and industry. According to the Innovation Union Scoreboard for 2016, Turkey is a ‘moderate
innovator’, below the EU average in almost all indicators.
4.26. Chapter 26: Education and culture
The EU supports cooperation in education and culture through funding programmes and
through the open method of coordination. Member States must also prevent discrimination and
facilitate the education of children of EU migrant workers.
Turkey is moderately prepared on education and culture. There was some progress in this
chapter. Turkey notified its decision to withdraw from the Creative Europe programme. In the
coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ further increase participation in education at all levels, especially for girls and children from
disadvantaged groups, and draw up effective strategies to reduce school drop-out rates;
→ improve the education and training of teachers;
→ ratify the UNESCO Convention, the main legal reference in the area of culture.
In the area of education, the measures taken by the government following the coup attempt of
15 July resulted in considerable staff dismissals and changes in many education institutions,
which will have long-term impacts. Some schools, youth organisations and higher education
institutions were officially closed. Turkey is at an advanced stage of implementing the Bologna
process, although significant quality differences persist among Turkey’s higher education
institutions. An independent and fully functioning Quality Assurance and Accreditation
Agency remains to be established in conformity with European standards and guidelines. The
Turkish Qualifications Framework was adopted in January 2016. Introducing modular curricula
and a credited module system, instead of the current class passing system, remains an important
issue for vocational education and training.
There has been some progress in the enrolment rate of children, particularly on pre-school
education, which however still remains well below the EU average. In the 2015/2016 academic
year, the schooling rate of children was 95 % for primary education, 94 % for lower secondary
education and 80 % for upper secondary education. Enrolment of girls increased to 80 %.
Turkey needs to develop a system to closely monitor and reduce early school leaving. Progress
is still needed to make education more inclusive, especially for Roma children and children
with disabilities. Education remains a high risk sector for political influence, especially higher
Turkey continues to successfully participate in the Erasmus+ programme
In the area of culture, Turkey decided to withdraw from the Creative Europe programme as of
1 January 2017. Turkey has not yet ratified the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection
and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions, which is the EU’s main legal reference
in the area of culture and remains a longstanding requirement in this area.
4.27. Chapter 27: Environment and climate change
The EU promotes strong climate action, sustainable development and protection of the
environment. EU law contains provisions addressing climate change, water and air quality,
waste management, nature protection, industrial pollution, chemicals, noise and civil
Turkey is at some level of preparation in this chapter. In the past year, there was some
progress, mainly in increasing capacity in waste management and waste-water treatment,
whereas enforcement and implementation still remains weak, especially on waste management
and industrial pollution. Efforts are being done in river basin management plans. More
ambitious and better coordinated environment and climate policies still need to be established
and implemented. Strategic planning, substantial investment and stronger administrative
capacity are required as well. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ complete alignment with the directives on waste management, industrial pollution and water
and ensure correct implementation of the environmental impact assessment legislation;
→ ensure alignment with the acquis on public participation and the public’s right to
environmental information, as well as on transparency on climate action;
→ ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, and start implementing its contribution to it.
Turkey has some level of preparation in the area of horizontal legislation. Implementation of
the Directive on Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community is still at an
early stage. Civil society remains critical of the implementation of the Environmental Impact
Assessment Directive. There are complaints with respect to application of the rule of law in
terms of court decisions given on environmental issues and with respect to public participation
and the right to environmental information. Legislation is not yet aligned with the Aarhus
Convention. Procedures for transboundary consultations have not yet been aligned with the
acquis. Alignment with the Strategic Environmental Assessments Directive is still pending. In
September 2016 a law allowed for the waiving of licencing and other restrictions for
strategically important investment projects. This may have a significant negative impact on
acquis implementation. There was no progress in this area during the reporting period.
On air quality, national legislation still needs to be adopted in line with the current directives
on ambient air quality, national emissions ceilings and volatile organic compounds. Severe air
pollution in some cities has been reported in the last year. Local clean air action plans to fight
air pollution have to be prepared. A national strategy for air quality monitoring is in place and
out of eight planned regional networks, one is already in place; the implementation of the
remaining seven networks is under way.
Regarding waste management, the legal framework is mostly aligned. Work has continued to
bring waste treatment facilities up to acquis standards. Sorting, recycling and medical waste
treatment capacity has increased. Further work is needed on the separate collection of different
types of waste, reducing biodegradables going into landfills and on hazardous waste. The
preparation and implementation of waste management plans on local and regional level, as
required by the Waste Framework Directive, has not yet started. Economic instruments to
promote recycling and the prevention of waste generation remain limited.
In the area of water quality, the level of alignment is moderate. Sensitive areas were identified
to be protected from urban waste water discharges. Alignment to the water framework
Directive is still not complete. The preparation of five river basin management plans is
ongoing. Water monitoring in line with EU directives is ongoing for four out of 27 basins.
Transboundary consultations on water issues with neighbouring countries have been initiated
by Turkey but are still at an early stage. Wastewater treatment capacity has increased as a result
of continuous investments. Regarding the directives on marine strategy, quality control and
bathing water alignment is pending. Partial alignment was achieved in recent changes in
secondary legislation on water quality standards, nitrates pollution and flood management
plans; generally transboundary issues are note aligned.
The framework legislation on nature protection, the national biodiversity strategy and the
action plan have not yet been adopted. The regulations allowing development in wetlands,
forests and natural site areas are still not in line with the acquis. The draft nature protection law
needs to be made compliant with the acquis. Potential Natura 2000 sites have not yet been
identified. The institutional framework for designating and managing future Natura 2000 sites
needs to be streamlined and adequately resourced. Investments, particularly in hydropower and
mining, need to be made in compliance with nature protection obligations are respected,
especially for national protected areas and areas of high natural value that could potentially
become protected Natura 2000 sites.
In the area of industrial pollution and risk management, alignment with most of the
European Union directives and regulations is at an early stage. Alignment with Seveso II
Directive is high, but it is at a low level with the industrial emissions and Seveso III Directives.
Alignment with the eco-management and audit scheme, the ecolabel Regulations, the volatile
organic compounds and the volatile organic compounds in paints Directives is pending.
On chemicals, alignment is pending on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and
restriction of chemicals, on import and export of dangerous chemicals, and on persistent
organic pollutants. The regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and
mixtures is in place, but implementation is not complete. Biocides legislation is in place but its
implementation postponed to 2020. The adoption of a regulatory framework has advanced the
animal's experiments directive implementation. The Rotterdam Convention is not ratified.
Legislative alignment in the field of noise is well advanced. Preparation of noise mapping and
local noise action plans has started.
Turkey has joined the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism in April 2016. However, it
has not yet connected to the EU Civil Protection Mechanism’s common emergency
communication and information system.
Regarding strategic planning, a national strategy consistent with the European Union 2030
framework on climate and energy policies has not yet been adopted. The existing national
climate change strategy and national climate change action plan address climate change
mitigation actions in some sectors but are inconsistent with other strategies, such as those for
energy. A climate change adaptation strategy has been drafted, but it lacks a legal basis and
enforcement. Mainstreaming of climate change into different sector policies is still weak.
Turkey needs to build climate action know-how into different government agencies so as to
further develop and implement national mitigation policies and measures. Regarding
commitments under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Turkey submitted its
First and Second Biennial Update Report on greenhouse gases in March, and its Sixth National
Communication and its National Inventory in April. Turkey needs to ratify the Paris Agreement
on climate change and start implementing its contributions to it. In the area of transparency of
climate action, alignment with the EU’s economy-wide greenhouse gas monitoring mechanism
is under preparation. Turkey needs to align with the Decision on accounting rules on
greenhouse gas emissions and removals resulting from activities relating to land use, land-use
change and forestry. A regulatory framework specific to the monitoring and reporting of
emissions from industrial installations is already in place, but full alignment with the Emission
Trading Directive is planned only for 2019. Regarding emission reductions from transport,
further efforts should be made to fully implement the legislation already aligned with the Fuel
Quality Directive, while the alignment with the EU Regulation on emissions standards for new
cars should be initiated. Alignment regarding ozone depleting substances is not yet complete.
Further efforts are required to align with the regulation on fluorinated greenhouse gases.
Turkey also needs to establish a precise transposition plan for the Directive on geological
storage of CO2.
4.28. Chapter 28: Health and consumer protection
EU rules protect consumers’ economic interests, their rights regarding unfair commercial
practices, and consumer products safety. The EU also works for citizens’ health through
tobacco control, safer blood, tissues, cells and organs, medicinal products, cross-border
healthcare and protection against health threats.
Turkey has achieved a good level of preparation in the area of health and consumer protection.
There has been some progress on legislative alignment and the establishment of structures
needed to implement the EU acquis in both areas. In the coming year, Turkey should in
→ ensure better functioning of arbitration committees on consumer complaints;
→ ensure the confidentiality and security of health data in the national information system;
→ increase the institutional/administrative capacity, inter-sectoral cooperation and adequate
diagnostic facilities to address health threats particularly at provincial level.
In the area of consumer protection, all secondary legislation necessary to implement the new
consumer protection law has now been adopted. Although Turkey continued to improve its
product safety and market surveillance regime, it needs to ensure effective enforcement of
measures regarding unsafe products. Also, Turkey needs to fully align its legislation with
Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety. Consumers can hardly obtain access to justice,
in particular for complaints on defective goods, electricity bills and financial services. The
appeal deadline for the execution of debts arising from consumer transactions is too short and
the right of withdrawal from package tours is not guaranteed. Sanctions against infringements
of consumer rights are not sufficiently deterrent. There has been further improvement in the
online services of the Directorate General for Consumer Protection. The quality of arbitration
committees’ decisions needs to be improved by the legal deadline. Inconsistency between
different arbitration committees and consumer courts’ decisions remains an issue. Awareness
and participation of consumer organisations in decision-making mechanisms is to be improved.
On public health, the increasing number of refugees is putting a heavy burden on the
healthcare system. Regarding serious cross-border health threats, no progress was made in
increasing the sensitivity of surveillance in detecting threats. Training and strengthening the
system for the recognition, reporting and control of communicable diseases, especially
outbreaks at provincial level, remains a challenge. The confidentiality and security of health
data in the national information system should be ensured. Non-communicable diseases cause
86 % of all deaths in Turkey (1 in 5 of the population under 70); intensive awareness-raising
efforts have continued on the dangers of tobacco use, physical inactivity, and unbalanced diets.
Capacity building and awareness-raising has continued in the field of blood, tissues, cells and
organs. Turkey has partly aligned with the EU acquis on blood. However, EU safety and
quality standards have not been fully implemented and a bigger budget is needed to improve
blood supply management and ensure the availability of safe blood to all. As regards human
tissues and cells, the professional and administrative procurement capacity has been improved
and deontological standards of cadaveric donation have been developed but need
implementation. Organ donation rates have increased and may reach 6 per million of the
population by the end of 2016, yet legislative alignment needs to be completed. There has been
good progress in the fight against cancer through improved infrastructure. Cancer screening
coverage reached 35 % for breast and 80 % for cervical cancer. The cancer control programme
has been integrated into primary healthcare and active cancer registration expanded to every
province. The national cancer institute is still to be established. In the field of mental health,
community-based mental health centres have been established across the country with training
of new staff.
4.29. Chapter 29: Customs union
All Member States are part of the EU customs union and follow the same customs rules and
procedures. This requires legislative alignment, adequate implementing and enforcement
capacity, and access to the common computerised customs systems.
Turkey has a good level of preparation in the area of the Customs Union, though no progress
was made in the reporting period. Duty relief, free zones, surveillance measures and
management of tariff quotas are not fully in line with the acquis and/or with Turkey’s
obligations under the Customs Union. Additional duties and designation of specialised customs
offices for goods in free circulation in the EU breach the Customs Union rules. In the coming
year, Turkey should in particular:
→ make additional efforts to improve risk-based controls and simplified procedures to facilitate
legitimate trade, while ensuring security and safety;
→ remove import and export restrictions preventing the effective free movement of goods.
No progress was made in the area of customs legislation. Customs law has yet to be
harmonised with the EU Customs Code. Only limited efforts were made to improve risk-based
controls and simplified procedures. In particular, the mandatory laboratory analysis required for
a large group of products and the resulting delays in customs clearance are not in line with the
objectives of conducting risk-based controls and facilitating trade.
Turkey maintained rules on surveillance and management of tariff quotas, free zones and duty
relief that are not fully in line with the acquis. Additional customs duties on imports of a wide
range of goods including footwear, carpets, rugs, various hand tools, some household
appliances, lamps and some furniture, bags and similar containers, as well as certain steel
products, are also not harmonised with EU customs duties. Even though the measures are
limited to goods originating from third countries, they also apply to goods in free circulation in
the EU and are thus contrary to the CU provisions.
Turkey disproportionally increased the agricultural component for sweet corn, which should be
determined in line with Customs Union rules.
On administrative and operational capacity, efforts to strengthen Turkey’s customs
enforcement capacity continued particularly on anti-smuggling and security-related operations.
In the area of intellectual property rights (see chapter 7) further alignment with the acquis is
needed. Unlike the new computerised transit system in the framework of Turkey’s membership
of the Convention on a common transit procedure, tariff IT systems (TARIC, Quota and
Surveillance) are not yet in place. A strategy for converging IT activities with business
initiatives has yet to be developed.
4.30. Chapter 30: External relations
The EU has a common trade and commercial policy towards third countries, based on
multilateral and bilateral agreements and autonomous measures. There are also EU rules in
the field of humanitarian aid and development policy.
Turkey maintains a good level of preparation in the area of external relations thanks in
particular to the Customs Union. There was some progress in the reporting period. Turkey
ratified the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement. However, Turkish
customs duties for a large number of products deviate from the Common Customs Tariff
(CCT), infringing the Customs Union. In the coming year, Turkey should in particular:
→ complete its alignment with the EU’s Generalised System of Preferences and dual-use
export control regime;
→ align its customs tariff with the CCT.
Some progress was made in the area of the common commercial policy, as Turkey notified
the WTO of implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement. However, within the WTO,
in particular on the Doha Development Agenda, the OECD and in the G-20, the level of
coordination between the EU and Turkey should be enhanced. Further alignment with EU GSP
rules is needed regarding product and geographical coverage.
Turkey formally adopted new safeguard measures but investigations on imports of mobile
phones, ceramic and porcelain tableware and kitchenware were terminated without imposing
measures. Turkey has been a very active user of the WTO safeguard instrument, systematically
extending measures in force, opening new investigations based on weak evidence and using
safeguards where use of more targeted trade defence measures, such as the anti-dumping
instrument, would be more appropriate.
Thanks to the Customs Union, Turkey’s alignment with the EU common commercial policy
continues to be high. However, Turkey does not respect the CCT, as it applies additional duties
to a large number of products imported. On dual-use goods export controls, Turkey has not
updated its control legislation in line with the EU acquis and does not align with the EU
position on membership of certain multilateral export control arrangements, such as the
Wassenaar Agreement. Turkey has also not aligned with the EU position on medium and longterm
Regarding bilateral agreements with third countries, Turkey signed a free trade agreement
with Singapore. Turkey continued to unilaterally implement its free trade agreement with
Malaysia although the EU has not concluded a similar agreement with Malaysia.
As for development policy and humanitarian aid, official development aid granted by Turkey
stood at EUR 2.8 billion or 0.46 % of ODA/GNI in 2015, mostly on Syria-related activities.
Turkey's assistance to Syrian refugees on its own territory makes it the donor contributing the
second largest amount in 2015. It is host to the largest refugee population in the world, with
about 3 million refugees from Syria, Iraq and other countries. In April, Turkey joined the EU
Civil Protection Mechanism.
4.31. Chapter 31: Foreign, security and defence policy
Member States must be able to conduct political dialogue in the framework of the foreign,
security and defence policy, to align with EU statements, to take part in EU actions and to
apply agreed sanctions and restrictive measures.
Turkey is moderately prepared as regards the alignment with the EU in the area of foreign,
security and defence policy. Good progress was made in broadening and deepening the regular
political dialogue on foreign and security policy, including at ministerial level. On Syria,
Turkey continued to support the Syrian Opposition Coalition and to provide substantial
humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees and contributed to laying the groundwork for the
International Syria Support Group. Dialogue on counter-terrorism continued. In the coming
year, Turkey should in particular:
→ align itself more closely with EU declarations and Council decisions.
The political dialogue between the EU and Turkey was further enhanced with the
29 November meeting of EU and Turkish leaders, which led to the adoption of the EU-Turkey
Statement and was followed by two prior EU-Turkey summits. A High Level Political
Dialogues took place on 25 January and 9 September where foreign policy issues were
discussed at length. Political Directors meetings took place in November 2015 and April 2016.
Discussions continued mainly on the developments in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Iran,
Saudi Arabia, Israel, Russia, and Ukraine. Specialised consultations covered fight against
terrorism and foreign terrorist fighters as well as Syria, Russia, Ukraine, South Caucasus and
Central Asia. An EU-Turkey Dialogue on Counter Terrorism was held in June 2016.
Regarding the common foreign and security policy, Turkey aligned itself, when invited, with
18 out of 41 EU declarations and Council decisions (44 % alignment for the period
1 September 2015 to 1 September 2016, against 40 % during the reference period of the 2015
Report on Turkey). Turkey has not yet signed the statute of the International Criminal Court.
Turkey participated in a number of high profile summits and conferences. It hosted notably the
OIC summit in April 2016.
Turkey remained a key player in the crisis in Syria, continuing its support to the National
Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces based in Istanbul. It contributed to
lay the groundwork for the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) and supported the run-up
to the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva. Turkey continued to provide extensive humanitarian
assistance to over 2.7 million of Syrian refugees. Turkey stepped up its involvement in the
coalition against Da’esh, continued air strikes against Da’esh positions, joined coalition
airstrikes and measures to prevent cross-border activities by Da’esh fighters. On 24 August
Turkey launched the cross-border military ground operation Euphrates Shield in northern Syria,
aiming at clearing the border areas from Da'esh presence in cooperation with the Free Syrian
Army. Relations between Turkey and Iraq deteriorated in the reporting period when Bagdad
criticised Ankara for reinforcing its camp at Bashiqa. Tensions between Turkey and Iraq rose
further in the context of the military campaign to liberate Mosul. Turkey’s relations with the
Kurdistan Regional Government remained stable. Turkey continued to conduct air strikes
against PKK camps in Iraqi Kurdistan. Regarding the relations with the United States, Turkey
allowed the US access to the Incirlik airbase used by the coalition forces, which remains
crucial. The US support to PYD/YPG within the framework of the fight against Da'esh
remained controversial in Turkey.
A rapprochement between Turkey and Russia was initiated in June, after a sharp deterioration
of bilateral relations following the downing of a Russian jet, which had violated Turkish
airspace, on 24 November 2015. Russia started to gradually phase out wide-ranging economic
and diplomatic sanctions affecting the Turkish economy. Among other decisions, Turkey and
Russia established a Joint Syria Mechanism in an attempt to narrow the positions on the
principles for a solution to the Syria conflict. A meeting between Presidents Erdogan and Putin
took place in Istanbul on 10 October, in the margins of the 23rd World Energy Congress.
Relations with Ukraine culminated with the conclusion of a bilateral free trade agreement and
enhanced cooperation in defence, industry and tourism in March 2016. While reiterating its
condemnation of the annexation of Crimea by Russia and concerns over the Tatar community,
Turkey did not align with Council decisions, including EU restrictive measures related to
Russia and Ukraine.
Relations with Saudi Arabia intensified with the establishment of a bilateral Strategic
Cooperation Council. With respect to Yemen, Turkey continued to encourage UN initiatives to
re-establish a legitimate government. Turkey considers the Gulf Cooperation Council states as
important partners in efforts to stabilise the region. Regarding Qatar, Turkey announced plans
to establish a military base. Turkey and Iran continued to develop their relationship, preventing
foreign policy divergences, notably on Syria, from interfering with economic cooperation.
Turkey increased its engagement in Libya, supporting Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj and an
inclusive political process. In June Turkey and Israel formally normalised relations. Relations
with Egypt did not improve. Turkey and Jordan signed ten bilateral agreements, mainly in the
economic field, in March 2016.
Regarding South Caucasus and Central Asia, Turkey was vocal in its support for Azerbaijan
during clashes in April 2016 in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan agreed to
sign a trilateral military cooperation agreement in May 2016. The 2009 protocols on
normalisation of relations with Armenia are not yet ratified. Turkey continued to maintain
close relations with the countries of the Western Balkans. Turkey continued to provide
humanitarian and development assistance to Afghanistan and co-chaired the 5th Ministerial
Meeting of the ‘Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process’ in Islamabad in December 2015. Turkey
pledged of USD 150 million of development assistance to Afghanistan for the period of 2018-
2020 at the Brussels Conference of 4-5 October. Turkey continued to strengthen its relations
with Latin America, Africa and Asia. It hosted the 6th meeting of the High Level Partnership
Forum on Somalia in February, a focal point of its diplomacy in Africa.
Turkey is party to all international arrangements on the non-proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. It has not yet aligned itself with the EU position on membership of the Wassenaar
Arrangement (see chapter 30 — External relations) and the Missile Technology Control
Turkey continued to participate in civilian and military crisis management operations under the
common security and defence policy, in particular EUFOR ALTHEA in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
and EULEX Kosovo. Turkey briefly participated in the EUAM in Ukraine and the EUPOL
COPPS in the Palestinian Territories. The issue of EU-NATO cooperation, going beyond the
‘Berlin plus’ arrangements, involving all EU Member States, continues to be unresolved.
4.32. Chapter 32: Financial control
Based on international standards, the EU promotes the reform of national governance systems
to enhance managerial accountability and sound financial management of income and
expenditure. The financial control rules further protect the EU’s financial interests against
fraud in the management of EU funds and the euro against counterfeiting.
Turkey has achieved a good level of preparation in the area of financial control. Some
progress was achieved with the updating of the national action plan for EU accession with
commitments on financial control, improved methodological guidance by the central
harmonisation units and an increase in the number of international audit certifications.
However, neither of the Commission’s recommendations on public internal financial control in
the 2015 report have been implemented. Further significant efforts are needed to implement
PIFC at all levels of the administration and in state-owned companies. In the coming year,
Turkey should in particular:
→ update its overdue PIFC policy paper
→ ensure a formal monitoring and reporting mechanism for an updated PIFC action plan;
→ implement the planned changes to the Law on Public Financial Management and Control in
line with the national action plan for EU accession.
Public internal financial control (PIFC)
Turkey adopted its PIFC strategy and an action plan in 2002. The government has committed
to updating them, yet there has been no tangible progress for a number of years. No mechanism
is in place to ensure regular monitoring and reporting on implementation. The Ministry of EU
Affairs issued the national action plan for EU accession 2016-2019 in January 2016. The action
plan envisages a revision of the Law on Public Financial Management and Control to improve
its implementation in 2016. The medium-term programme from January 2016 makes a number
of commitments for improving internal control over the period 2016-2018, but it does not
provide clear targets and indicators to measure performance.
Two central harmonisation units (CHU) in the Ministry of Finance supervise the
implementation of PIFC. The CHU for financial management and control provides
methodological guidance and coordinates implementation in line ministries. It prepares an
annual general accountability report for the government, based on an annual survey of budget
users. The government does not, however, adopt conclusions on the basis of the report. The
CHU for internal audit coordinates the implementation of internal audit in line ministries.
During the reporting period it published handbooks on quality assurance and development, as
well as on value-for-money audit for internal auditors in public administrations. It also issues
an annual general government internal audit report. The administrative capacity of the CHUs
needs to be strengthened gradually.
The PIFC law regulates financial management and control mostly in line with the internal
control framework of the Committee of Sponsoring Organisations (COSO) and the guidelines
of the International Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (INTOSAI). Central
government institutions broadly follow the PIFC manual. However, there is a need to refocus
internal control as a management system rather than as a purely financial one. Ensuring a
systematic approach to risk management in Turkey is a key challenge. The medium-term
programme from January 2016 announces a public risk management guide. Turkey has an
extensive financial inspection function in individual ministries. There are potential overlaps
with internal audit, as both functions are focused on legal compliance.
Internal audit is regulated in the PIFC law, generally in line with international standards. An
internal audit manual and a code of ethics are in place, as are manuals drafted by the CHU. 252
out of 383 institutions have set up internal audit units as requested. To date, 46 % of internal
audit posts in the general government institutions have been filled. Some key institutions such
as the Prime Minister’s Office have yet to appoint internal auditors. 957 internal auditors have
been certified by the CHU. 19 % of the auditors hold an international certification. Most
institutions have an audit charter and perform audits according to audit plans. The internal audit
software which was introduced in 2014 is widely used in all public institutions. In 2016, the
Internal Audit Coordination Board introduced a mobile application for internal auditors.
Ownership of internal audit at managerial level remains weak.
The independence of the Turkish Court of Accounts (TCA) is enshrined in the Constitution.
The TCA law is in line with the INTOSAI standards. It provides for a wide audit mandate and
gives the TCA full discretion in discharging its responsibilities.
The TCA, which has also judicial functions, has a well-established structure with a presidency
and governing boards. TCA board members are elected by Parliament. TCA increased its staff
capacity considerably in the past year. Of its 1580 staff, 922 are auditors. Following the coup
attempt of 15 July, 5.3 % of the TCA staff, mostly (senior) auditors were dismissed. This may
lead to a weakening of the external audit capacity of the TCA as it will require a long time to
train the new recruited staff as external auditors. To develop its institutional capacity, the TCA
has adopted a strategic development plan for 2014-2018, including a training strategy. The
TCA is carrying out an action plan to align with international internal control standards. Its
impact will have to be assessed.
The TCA seeks to improve the quality of audit work by adopting assessment manuals for
performance audit and activity reports and by strengthening the external audit training centre.
Planning of audit work is mostly risk-based. The TCA submits annually four audit reports to
Parliament (on general evaluation, accountability, financial statistics and state enterprises) in
addition to the statement of general conformity. The TCA has a dedicated quality control unit
to ensure auditors’ adherence to professional and ethical standards and quality of reporting.
However, the TCA should ensure that performance audits are not only audits about
performance indicators but would also focus on economy, efficiency and effectiveness of
public institutions. Omnibus law no.6661 adopted in January curtailed the scope of the TCA
audit of companies listed on the Stock Exchange with less than 50 % of public shares. Given
the high number of budget users at the local level, the capacity of the TCA to audit local
administrations, municipal companies and associations needs to be strengthened.
Regarding the impact of audit work, the TCA assesses the internal control environment of
audited entities as part of its audit work. The TCA submits its annual general conformity
assessment audit report to the general assembly of the Parliament which is analysed in the Plan
and Budget Committee and discussed in the plenary. However, this process is neither
systematic nor effective. A joint working group of the TCA and the Ministry of Finance is
operational. A similar working group is needed with Parliament. The TCA frequently updates
its website and communicates well with the media. However, audit reports on state-owned
enterprises for 2014 were not posted on the TCA’s website and those for previous years were
removed. This has reduced the accessibility and transparency of external audit.
Protection of the EU’s financial interests
As regards acquis alignment, the national legislation incorporates the main components of the
convention on the protection of the EU’s financial interests and imposes an obligation to
safeguard evidence. The national anti-fraud coordination service (AFCOS) is an
independent unit under the Prime Minister’s Office. An anti-fraud network, involving other
relevant authorities, is in place. The 2010-2014 anti-corruption strategy and action plan failed
to meet most of the objectives initially set. The new action plan for 2016-2019 needs to be
implemented in an inclusive and participatory fashion to address outstanding issues.
Turkey cooperated with the European Commission investigators in various cases in 2015,
but AFCOS will need to improve its cooperation with the Commission. Turkey has established
the main procedures for reporting irregularities and suspected fraud cases. Access to the
Irregularity Management System has been obtained with a network of 43 Turkish users. During
the period 2006-2016, Turkey has reported 259 cases of irregularities to the Commission through
the system, including 45 cases over the past year. A solid track record on investigation activities
and reporting still needs to be established.
Protection of the euro against counterfeiting
Turkey has reached a high level of acquis alignment in this area. Turkey is also a party to the
1929 International Convention for the Suppression of Counterfeiting Currency. Technical
analysis of counterfeit money, including euro banknotes and coins, is performed by a dedicated
department in the central bank. The police serves as the national central office for ensuring
cooperation with EU institutions as part of the counterfeit tracking system. Turkish legislation
imposes financial penalties on credit institutions which do not withdraw counterfeits from
circulation. Turkey has not signed formal cooperation agreements with the Commission and
the European Central Bank, but in practice there is close cooperation. In addition, Turkey is
implementing the roadmap for strengthening cooperation with Europol. Turkey participates
actively in the Pericles 2020 programme.
4.33. Chapter 33: Financial and budgetary provisions
Rules for funding the EU budget provide for contributions based mainly on the gross national
income of each Member State as well as from value added tax and customs duties.
Turkey has reached some level of preparation in the area of financial and budgetary
provisions. Some progress was made in the past year, as this chapter was opened for
negotiations on 30 June 2016. Solid coordination structures, administrative capacity and
implementing rules will need to be established in due course.
Basic principles and institutions in the underlying policy areas (chapters 16 — Taxation, 18 —
Statistics, 29 — Customs Union and 32 — Financial Control) linked to the application of the
own resources system are already in place. Due to the Customs Union with the EU on
processed agricultural goods and industrial goods (with the exception of coal and steel
products) Turkey´s customs legislation is largely in line with the acquis in chapter 29. This will
facilitate preparations in the field of traditional own resources.
Preparations are needed in the field of the value added tax-based resource so as to calculate
the statistical VAT base. Turkey will need to take sound measures for combating fraud in VAT
and customs duties and tackle the informal economy in order to ensure an appropriate
contribution to the EU own resources system upon membership.
Concerning the gross national income-based resource, efforts to compile financial and
statistical data in line with the European System of Accounts are ongoing. Turkey will need to
make considerable efforts to ensure that national accounts and GNI calculations are exhaustive
by taking the informal economy into account and to create an inventory of sources and methods
used for the compilation of GNI.
Regarding the administrative infrastructure, Turkey will need to establish a fully operational
coordination structure, administrative capacity and implementing rules to ensure that it will be
able, from accession, to correctly calculate, forecast, account for, collect, pay, control and
report to the EU on own resources in line with the acquis.
ANNEX I – RELATIONS BETWEEN THE EU AND TURKEY
Within the framework of accession negotiations, 16 chapters have been opened so far and one
of these was provisionally closed. Chapter 17 - economic and monetary affairs and chapter 33
– financial and budgetary provisions – were opened respectively on 14 December 2015 and 30
June 2016, in line with the EU and Turkey's commitment to re-energise the accession process
as set out in their joint statement of 29 November 2015. The Commission has undertaken to
advance the preparatory work on five other chapters without prejudice to Member States'
positions in accordance with the existing rules. Opening benchmarks for chapters 23 and 24 on
the rule of law still need to be defined so as to provide Turkey with a roadmap for reforms in
this essential area. Progress on the priorities for reform is encouraged and monitored by the
bodies set up under the Association Agreement. The Association Committee met in May
2016, while sub-committees kept being held throughout the reporting period. Subcommittees
play a useful role in supporting Turkey's efforts of alignment with the acquis and of compliance
with the opening and closing benchmarks of the negotiation chapters, without prejudice to the
Council Conclusions of 11 December 2006.
As agreed at the first EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015, the Commission, jointly with
the European External Action Service, has stepped up EU-Turkey relations in all key areas of
joint interest based on a broad strategic engagement. First Vice President Timmermans, High
Representative/Vice President Mogherini and Commissioner Hahn made a number of visits to
Turkey during the reporting period. Turkey itself continued to express its commitment to EU
accession: then Prime Minister Davutoglu visited Brussels on several occasions and met with
the Presidents of the European Council, of the European Parliament and of the European
Commission. The President of the European Parliament visited Turkey in September 2016 and
the President of the European Council in April 2016. The enhanced political dialogue between
the EU and Turkey was brought to a new level. Within the framework of a new High Level
Political Dialogue, High Representative/Vice President and Commissioner Hahn held meetings
with their Turkish counterparts on 25 January and 9 September 2016. A political dialogue at
directors' level took place in April 2016. Regular discussions on foreign and security policy
were held, including on counter-terrorism, against the background of Turkey stepping up its
involvement in the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL/Da'esh. Discussions were held on a wide
range of topics and regions, inter alia, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and the
Gulf, Afghanistan, Libya, Russia, Ukraine, the Western Balkans, the South Caucasus, Central
In the area of visa migration and asylum, a Joint Action Plan on migration was activated at
the EU-Turkey Summit of 29 November 2015. Further to the EU-Turkey Statement of 18
March 2016, this close cooperation was stepped up aiming at putting an end to the irregular
migration from Turkey to the EU, breaking the business model of the smugglers and
developing legal pathways to Europe for those entitled to international protection in line with
EU and international law. Implementation reports have been issued in February, March, April,
June and September 2016. Regarding the Visa Liberalisation Dialogue launched in December
2013, the second and third implementation reports on the visa roadmap were issued in March
and May 2016. The report of May acknowledged the good progress made and tabled a proposal
to lift the visa requirement for Turkish citizens on the understanding that Turkey would
urgently step up its efforts to meet the seven outstanding requirements, out of 72, in order to
obtain visa liberalisation. The EU and Turkey continue their close cooperation on this issue.
Developing further close economic ties was another shared priority. The first High Level
Economic Dialogue was held on 25-26 April in Istanbul and Ankara, where both parties
discussed macroeconomic and investment developments and engaged with the business
community. Turkey continues to participate in the multilateral economic dialogue with the
Commission and Member States to prepare the country for participation in multilateral
surveillance and economic policy coordination as part of the EU’s Economic and Monetary
Union. The most recent meeting was held on 25 May 2016, where joint recommendations were
adopted. The EU and Turkey also continue to coordinate in the framework of the G-20. Turkey
and the EU continued to improve their cooperation on energy, and a High Level Energy
Dialogue meeting was held in January 2016. The dialogue covered developments and policy
priorities in the gas sector and security of supplies, including the Southern Gas Corridor; the
electricity sector; the nuclear sector; energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Following agreement by the Commission and the Turkish government in May 2015 to initiate
procedures in view of the modernisation and extension of the Customs Union, an Impact
Assessment study has been carried out by external consultants, which will feed into the
Commission's own assessment which will accompany a possible recommendation for a Council
decision authorising the opening of negotiations to be presented by the Commission by the end
of 2016. Turkey is the EU’s fifth largest trading partner, while the EU is Turkey’s largest. Two
out of five goods traded by Turkey come from or go to the EU and over 70 % of foreign direct
investment in Turkey originates in the EU.
Regarding financial assistance, the Financing Agreement for the IPA II 2014 annual
programme entered into force, with a budget of EUR 366 million, and the 2015 annual
programme was adopted, with a budget of EUR 255 million. Both programmes have a strong
focus on the rule of law and fundamental rights and on the building up of capacities in the field
of migration and asylum, in relation to the Visa Liberalisation Roadmap and the commitments
under the Joint Action Plan on migration and the 18 March EU-Turkey Statement. The
Financing Agreements for the Sector Operational Programmes on Environment and climate
action, Education, employment and social policies and Competitiveness and innovation entered
into force in April and May 2016, for a total budget of EUR 478 million. IPA support of
Turkey's efforts to host refugees has expanded significantly. In December 2015, EUR 139.6
million from IPA I programmes have been transferred to the EU Regional Trust Fund in
Response to the Syrian Crisis to finance environmental and social infrastructures, support to
entrepreneurship, education and access to labour market.
Furthermore, in line with the commitment taken by the EU at the 29 November 2015 Summit
with Turkey, and following final agreement by the Member States in February 2016, a Facility
for Refugees in Turkey was set up, with a budget of EUR 3 billion over the period 2016-2017
(EUR 1 billion from the EU budget and EUR 2 billion from Member States contributions as
externally assigned revenues). The Facility is a coordination mechanism, designed to ensure
that the needs of refugees and host communities in Turkey are addressed in a comprehensive
and coordinated manner. The Facility became immediately operational and as of the end of
September some EUR 2.2 billion have been allocated, EUR 1.2 billion contracted and EUR 677
Turkey participates in the following EU programmes: Erasmus+, Horizon 2020, Customs
2020, Fiscalis 2020, COSME, (Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized
Enterprises) and EASI (Employment and Social Innovation). Turkey decided to withdraw from
the Creative Europe programme as of 1 January 2017 after three years of participation. Turkey
participates in the European Environmental Agency, in the European Monitoring Centre for
Drugs and Drug Addiction and since 2015 in the Civil Protection Mechanism.
ANNEX II – STATISTICAL ANNEX
STATISTICAL DATA (as of 5.10.2016)
Basic data Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Population (thousand) 1) 66 402e 73 723b 74 724 75 627 76 668 77 696
Total area of the country (km²) 783 562 783 562 783 562 783 562 783 562 783 562
National accounts Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Gross domestic product (GDP) (million national
454 781 1 297 713 1 416 799 1 567 289 1 748 168 1 952 638
Gross domestic product (GDP) (million euro) 268 323 555 100 612 405 618 626 601 468 645 394
GDP (euro per capita) 4 000 7 500 8 200 8 200 7 800 8 300
GDP (in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) per
7 500 13 400b 14 000 14 200 14 600 15 100
GDP (in Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) per
capita), relative to the EU average (EU-28 = 100)
35 51b 53 53 53 53
Real GDP growth rate: change on previous year of
GDP volume (%)
5.3 8.4 1.9 4.8 3.0 4.0
Employment growth (national accounts data), relative
to the previous year (%)
: : : : : :
Labour productivity growth: growth in GDP (constant
prices) per person employed, relative to the previous
: : : : : :
Unit labour cost growth, relative to the previous year
: : : : : :
**3 year change (T/T-3) in the nominal unit labour
cost growth index (2005 = 100)
: : : : : :
Labour productivity per person employed: GDP (in
PPS) per person employed relative to EU average
(EU-27 = 100)
: : : : : :
Gross value added by main sectors
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries (%) 11.1 9.0 8.8 8.3 8.0 8.5
Industry (%) 23.4 22.5 21.7 21.6 22.0 21.5
Construction (%) 4.5 5.0 4.9 5.0 5.1 5.0
Services (%) 61.0 63.5 64.6 65.1 64.9 65.0
Final consumption expenditure, as a share of GDP
83.4 85.1 85.0 85.9 84.2 84.8
Gross fixed capital formation, as a share of GDP (%) 17.0 21.8 20.3 20.3 20.1 20.4
Changes in inventories, as a share of GDP (%) 0.6 1.7 -0.1 0.3 -0.1 -2.3
Exports of goods and services, relative to GDP (%) 23.0 24.0 26.3 25.6 27.9 28.0
Imports of goods and services, relative to GDP (%) 24.0 32.6 31.5 32.2 32.1 30.8
Gross fixed capital formation by the general
government sector, as a percentage of GDP (%)
: : : : : :
Business Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Industrial production volume index (2010 = 100) 69.0 109.9 112.6 116.5 120.5 124.3
Number of active enterprises (number) : 3 422 163 3 474 992 3 529 541 3 525 431 3 584 832
Birth rate: number of enterprise births in the
reference period (t) divided by the number of
enterprises active in t (%)
: 23.2 12.8 12.4 12.2 12.1
Death rate: number of enterprise deaths in the
reference period (t) divided by the number of
enterprises active in t (%)
: 12.0 12.1 12.4 : :
People employed in SMEs as a share of all persons
employed (within the non-financial business
: 76.0 75.8 74.2 : :
Value added by SMEs (in the non-financial business
economy) (EUR million)
: 81 593 91 208 97 407 : :
Total value added (in the non-financial business
economy) (EUR million)
84 559 153 201 170 420 184 526 178 630 :
Inflation rate and house prices Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Harmonised consumer price index (HICP), change
relative to the previous year (%)
25.3 6.5 8.9 7.5 8.9 7.7
**Annual change in the deflated house price index
(2010 = 100)
: : : : : :
Balance of payments Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Balance of payments: current account total (million
-6 678 -53 450 -37 330 -47 894 -32 783 -29 059
Balance of payments current account: trade balance
-11 856 -64 052 -50 877 -60 174 -47 871 -43 404
Balance of payments current account: net services
9 188 14 575 17 581 17 830 20 149 21 738
Balance of payments current account: net income
-4 912 -5 208 -5 128 -6 458 -6 120 -8 584
Balance of payments current account: net current
transfers (million euro)
902 1 235 1 094 908 1 059 1 192
of which government transfers (million euro) 257 450 308 344 358 465
**3 year backward moving average of the current
account balance relative to GDP (%)
-0.3 -5.9 -7.3 -7.8 -6.4 -5.9
**Five year change in share of world exports of
goods and services (%)
: : : : : :
Net inward foreign direct investment (FDI) (million
1 080.3 9 922.4 7 144.3 6 593.6 4 121.9 10 641.7
Foreign direct investment (FDI) abroad (million euro) 424.3 1 702.6 3 195.0 2 731.0 5 304.5 4 591.3
of which FDI of the reporting economy in the EU-28
countries (million euro)
138.8 1 050.4 2 354.4 1 526.4 2 645.5 2 480.5
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the reporting
economy (million euro)
1 504.6 11 625 10 339.4 9 324.6 9 426.4 15 233
of which FDI of the EU-28 countries in the reporting
economy (million euro)
536.6 6 859.4 6 349.2 3 950.8 4 155.1 7 289.8
**Net international investment position, relative to
-34.6 -40.7 -53.9 -48.1 -55.1 -51.1
Year on year rate of change in gross inflow of
remittances (in national currency) from migrant
-68.5 5.0 1.1 -12.9 -4.6 2.0
Public finance Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
***General government deficit / surplus, relative to
-8.9 -0.8f -0.2 0.2 0.4 1.7
***General government gross debt relative to GDP
65.2 37f 35.4 31.1 34.5 31.3
Total government revenues, as a percentage of
: 35.0 36.5 37.8 39.3 28.7
Total government expenditure, as a percentage of
: 35.8 36.7 37.6 38.8 28.4
Financial indicators Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Gross foreign debt of the whole economy, relative to
42.7 42.0 42.0 45.8 55.0 56.4
Gross foreign debt of the whole economy, relative to
total exports (%)
305.1 225.3 222.8 257.0 255.3 276.6
Money supply: M1 (banknotes, coins, overnight
deposits, million euro)
2) 13 188 65 555b 76 513 78 110 91 571 97 885
Money supply: M2 (M1 plus deposits with maturity up
to two years, million euro)
3) 47 398 274 239b 315 960 309 213 360 158 373 608
Money supply: M3 (M2 plus marketable instruments,
4) 50 488 288 210b 333 144 323 062 375 844 387 048
Total credit by monetary financial institutions to
residents (consolidated) (million euro)
29 025 255 706 318 918 341 791 418 789 443 147
**Annual change in financial sector liabilities (%) : : : : : :
**Private credit flow, consolidated, relative to GDP
: : : : : :
**Private debt, consolidated, relative to GDP (%) : : : : : :
Interest rates: day-to-day money rate, per annum (%) 5) 40.50 10.20 11.20 10.05 10.94 11.02
Lending interest rate (one year), per annum (%) 41.50 9.95 10.87 7.56 11.68 10.79
Deposit interest rate (one year), per annum (%) 6) 35.50 3.83 5.00 3.81 7.75 7.27
Euro exchange rates: average of period (1 euro = …
1.685 2.322 2.314 2.534 2.906 3.026
Trade-weighted effective exchange rate index (2005
99.4 74.4 74.5 68.6 59.5 56.6
**3 year change (T/T-3) in the trade-weighted
effective exchange rate index, 42 countries (2005 =
: : : : : :
Value of reserve assets (including gold) (million euro) 31 084 63 467 92 748 98 640 95 824 99 620
External trade in goods Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Value of imports: all goods, all partners (million euro) 61 248 173 099 184 087 189 783 182 338 186 532
Value of exports: all goods, all partners (million euro) 41 761 96 973 118 644 114 533 118 653 129 555
Trade balance: all goods, all partners (million euro) -19 487 -76 126 -65 443 -75 250 -63 685 -56 977
Terms of trade (export price index / import price
index * 100) (number)
7) 100 93 96 98 98 103
Share of exports to EU-28 countries in value of total
58.1 46.4 38.9 41.5 43.5 44.5
Share of imports from EU-28 countries in value of
total imports (%)
50.6 37.9 37.0 36.7 36.7 38.0
Demography Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Crude rate of natural change of population (natural
growth rate): number of births minus deaths (per
11.7 11.4 11.7 12.0 12.3 11.8
Infant mortality rate deaths of children under one
year of age (per thousand live births)
29.1 11.7 11.6 10.8 11.1 :
Life expectancy at birth: male (years) : 74.4 74.8 75.4 75.4 :
Life expectancy at birth: female (years) : 79.8 80.5 81.1 80.9 :
Labour market Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Economic activity rate for persons aged 20–64:
proportion of the population aged 20–64 that is
economically active (%)
: 57.2 57.4 58.4 58.9 59.9
*Employment rate for persons aged 20–64:
proportion of the population aged 20–64 that are in
49.2 52.2 52.8 53.4 53.2 53.9
Male employment rate for persons aged 20–64 (%) 72.2 75.1 75.0 75.3 75.0 75.3
Female employment rate for persons aged 20–64
26.4 29.8 30.9 31.8 31.6 32.6
Employment rate for persons aged 55–64: proportion
of the population aged 55–64 that are in employment
32.7 31.4 31.9 31.5 31.4 31.9
Employment by main sectors
Agriculture, forestry and fisheries (%) 8) : 25.5 24.6 23.6 21.1b 20.6
Industry (%) : 19.5 19.1 19.4 20.5b 20.0
Construction (%) : 7.0 6.9 7.0 7.4b 7.2
Services (%) : 48.1 49.4 50.0 51.0b 52.2
People employed in the public sector as a share of
total employment, persons aged 20–64 (%)
16.8 13.3 13.8 13.5 13.1b 13.5
People employed in the private sector as a share of
total employment, persons aged 20–64 (%)
83.2 86.7 86.2 86.5 86.9b 86.5
Unemployment rate: proportion of the labour force
that is unemployed (%)
9) : 8.8 8.2 8.8 9.9 10.3
Male unemployment rate (%) 9) : 8.3 7.7 8.0 9.1 9.3
Female unemployment rate (%) 9) : 10.1 9.4 10.6 11.9 12.6
Youth unemployment rate: proportion of the labour
force aged 15–24 that is unemployed (%)
9) : 16.7 15.7 16.9 17.8 18.4
Long-term unemployment rate: proportion of the
labour force that has been unemployed for 12
months or more (%)
9) : 2.3 2.0 2.1 2.0 2.2
Unemployment rate for persons (aged 25–64) having
completed at most lower secondary education
(ISCED 0–2) (%)
9) : 7.4 6.7 7.3 8.4b 8.9
Unemployment rate for persons (aged 25–64) having
completed tertiary education (ISCED 5 & 6) (%)
9) : 6.8 6.7 6.9 8.1b 8.4
Social cohesion Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Average nominal monthly wages and salaries
10) 543 1 242 1 327 1 509 : :
Index of real wages and salaries (index of nominal
wages and salaries divided by the inflation index)
(2000 = 100)
: : : : : :
GINI coefficient 45.0 43.3 42.8 : : :
Poverty gap (%) 31.0 31.9 30.3 : : :
*Early leavers from education and training:
proportion of the population aged 18–24 with at most
lower secondary education who are not in further
education or training (%)
11) 52.9 41.9b 39.6 37.6p 38.3 36.7
Standard of living Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Number of passenger cars relative to population size
(number per thousand population)
70.8 110.0 115.7 122.8 128.6 136.3
Number of mobile phone subscriptions relative to
population size (number per thousand population)
420e 874b 895 909 925 935
Mobile broadband penetration (per 100 inhabitants) : : : : : :
Fixed broadband penetration (per 100 inhabitants) : : : : : :
Infrastructure Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Density of railway network (lines in operation per
11.1 12.3 12.3 12.4 12.9 12.9
Length of motorways (kilometres) 1 753 2 119 2 127 2 127 2 155 2 159
Innovation and research Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Public expenditure on education relative to GDP (%) 3.0 4.5 4.8 5.0 5.1 :
*Gross domestic expenditure on R&D relative to
12) 0.48 0.86b 0.92 0.95 0.96 :
Government budget appropriations or outlays on
R&D (GBAORD), as a percentage of GDP (%)
0.34 0.32 0.37 0.32 :
Percentage of households who have internet access
at home (%)
42.9 47.2 49.1 60.2 69.5
Environment Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
*Index of greenhouse gas emissions, CO2
equivalent (1990 = 100)
139.6 172.4 180.0 178.0 184.6 :
Energy intensity of the economy (kg of oil equivalent
per 1 000 euro GDP at 2005 constant prices)
239.1 221.5 227.5 218.7 219.1 :
Electricity generated from renewable sources relative
to gross electricity consumption (%)
25.3 25.4 27.3 28.9 21.1 :
Road share of inland freight transport (based on
94.6 94.3 94.5 95.4s 94.9 95.8
Energy Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Primary production of all energy products (thousand
23 783 32 229 31 964 31 944 31 049 :
Primary production of crude oil (thousand TOE) 2 494 2 555 2 440 2 485 2 471 :
Primary production of hard coal and lignite (thousand
10 777 17 869 17 018 15 451 16 359 :
Primary production of natural gas (thousand TOE) 510 652 533 443 414 :
Net imports of all energy products (thousand TOE) 61 150 84 087 91 827 90 784 97 041 :
Gross inland energy consumption (thousand TOE) 83 826 114 480 120 093 120 290 123 937 :
Electricity generation (thousand GWh) 140.6 229.4 239.5 240.2 252.0 :
Agriculture Note 2003 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Agricultural production volume index of goods and
services (at producer prices) (previous year = 100)
98 : : : : :
Utilised agricultural area (thousand hectares) 40 644 38 231 38 399 38 423 38 558 38 551p
Livestock numbers: live bovine animals (thousand
heads, end of period)
13) 9 788 12 386 13 915 14 415 14 223 13 994
Livestock numbers: live swine (thousand heads, end
7 2 3 3 3 2
Livestock numbers: live sheep and live goats
(thousand heads, end of period)
32 203 32 310 35 783 38 510 41 485 41 924
Production and utilisation of milk on the farm (total
whole milk) (thousand tonnes)
10 611 15 056 17 401 18 224 18 631 18 655
Harvested crop production: cereals (including rice)
30 807 35 202 33 377 37 489 32 714 38 637
Harvested crop production: sugar beet (thousand
12 623 16 126 14 920 16 489 16 743 16 023
Harvested crop production: vegetables (thousand
25 870 27 547 27 820 28 448 28 487 29 552
: = not available
b = break in series
e = estimate
f = forecast
p = provisional
s = Eurostat estimate
* = Europe 2020 indicator
** = Macroeconomic Imbalance Procedure (MIP) indicator
*** = The government deficit and debt data of enlargement countries are published on an "as is" basis and without any
assurance as regards their quality and adherence to ESA rules.
1) Values are derived from 2000–06 population estimates and 2007–15 results of address based population registration
2) Break in series. From December 2005 onwards, M1 also includes currency in circulation and demand deposits in foreign
currencies, not just in national currency. Furthermore, from December 2005 monetary liabilities of Participation Banks,
Investment and Development Banks and the amount of Money Market Funds were added to money supply data.
3) Break in series. From December 2005 onwards, M2 includes M1 and time deposits in foreign currencies, not just in national
currency. See also break in series for M1.
4) Break in series. From December 2005 onwards, M3 includes (in addition to M2 and official deposits (time/demand) which
were already included previously) funds received from repo transactions and money market funds (B type liquid funds). See
also break in series for M1 and M2.
5) Average of monthly data. Lending to enterprises more than one year.
6) Average of monthly data. Overnight deposit facility.
7) Expressed as an index with 2000 = 100. Time series were originally based on different reference years (2009–09, 2003 =
100; since 2010, 2010 = 100).
8) 2011–13: includes NACE Rev. 2 Group 98.1 (undifferentiated goods-producing activities of private households for own use).
9) 2011–15: unemployment based on 4 weeks criterion + using only active jobs search methods.
10) 2003: data have been converted (rescaled) to the current national currency. Data are based on the Income and Living
Conditions Survey (SILC).
11) Break in series caused by the addition of 'participation in non formal education or training' from 2004.
12) Break in series due to the use of revised GDP series since 2007.
13) Excluding buffaloes.