Germany's CDU leadership hopeful suggests UK model for Turkey-EU partnership

Friedrich Merz, one of the contenders to succeed Angela Merkel as the leader of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) has said that he does not see Turkey joining the EU in the long-term. Merz instead suggested that the post-Brexit trade deal between the UK and EU could set a precedent for the partnership between Turkey and the bloc.

A woman adjusts the Turkish flag next to the European Union flag at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels in this file photo.

Duvar English

Friedrich Merz, the candidate for leadership of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU), has said that there is no prospect of EU membership for Turkey, even in the long-term, and suggested an expanded free trade agreement between the two sides. He said that the EU's agreement with Britain following the latter's exit from the bloc could set a precedent.

"It would make sense to have an expanded European economic area that enables countries like Turkey, for example, to participate in the EU internal market without acquiring the rights of full EU membership," he was quoted as saying by Deutsche Welle's Turkish service on Jan. 4.

Britain left the EU at the end of January 2020. At the beginning of 2021 it also withdrew from the EU internal market and customs union. Following months-long discussions, the EU and Britain reached a consensus on a trade and partnership agreement, which mandates no tariffs and quantity restrictions on trade goods. The contract also regulates other issues, such as fishing and cooperation in areas such as energy, transport and justice.

The era of Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to come to an end. After 16 years and four terms in government, the Christian Democrat will step down. One of the most important questions in the new year for the CDU is who will take her place. 

There are three candidates who want to face the CDU delegates at a digital party conference to be held in mid-January: former party whip Friedrich Merz, North Rhine-Westphalia Premier Armin Laschet and Bundestag Foreign Affairs Committee head Norbert Röttgen. But whether one of them will become a candidate for the chancellorship in addition to party head remains to be seen.