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A Game Changer in EU-Turkey Relations: The Opportunities and Pitfalls of Migration Policy


The mass migration from Syria has been a major turning point and an important ‘game changer’ in EU-Turkey relations, as it marks a watershed in immigration and asylum between two periods: from 1999 to 2011 and from 2011 to the present. During the first period, the EU was one of the driving forces of change in Turkey’s immigration and asylum policy, along with significant migration movements from the Middle East. Although EU demands were largely implemented due to the country’s changing migration profile, there was also ongoing resistance and reluctance towards the EU, thus a certain degree of conditionality. With the Syrian mass migration in 2011, however, and in particular the so-called ‘European refugee crisis’ in 2015, Turkey started to use migration as a foreign policy tool with which to oppose EU conditionality.
Keywords: EU-Turkey relations, migration and asylum policy, externalisation, coercive engineered migration, Syrian mass migration