Make Europe Green Again: The Role of Turkey - Salih Efe Kahramaner


There is no doubt that the world is getting worse every day than the day before. The environment gets more contaminated, and carbon emissions are escalating significantly, more water resources are running out, forests are being more destroyed, global warming is increasing, more than eight million species are extinct. However, It may not initially pose a visible danger to humanity, but it may be seen as a sign of a severe situation for the next generations. For this reason, a multi-dimensional approach to the threat of climate change needs to be dealt with with a comprehensive perspective from regional to global scale. The EU -European Union- took a vital step in 2019 by implementing a wide-reaching roadmap to eliminate these environmental problems in the long term.

"Today is the start of a journey. However, this is Europe's 'man on the moon' moment. The European Green Deal is very ambitious, but it will also be cautious in assessing the impact and every single step we are taking."

On 11 December 2019, the President of the European Commission, Von Der Leyen, declared "European Union's Green Deal," which encompasses a strategy that aims to create a more clean, effective, and sustainable competitive economy that will reach zero emissions greenhouses in 2030. As Von Der Leyen stated that "Our goal is to reconcile the economy with our planet, to reconcile the way we produce and the way we consume with our planet and to make it work for our people." All these goals are considering into initiatives to mitigate adverse environmental impact under the "European Union's Green Deal project are making the economy more sustainable and circular to take advantage of the energy resources used in the industry more efficiently. In other words, the European Union is redesigning and restrengthening its economic targets in the direction of climate targets. EU reaffirmed its political pledge by constituting a "European Climate law".

With the enterprising of the EU Green Deal, it can be the undeniable fact that regional and global economic transition is inevitable. In this transformation parallel with long-term global climate goals, Turkey, a significant key player on a global scale, is playing a significant role on a regional level, as an essential strategic partner for the European Union, in terms of multilateral economic relations, trade, refugee crisis and socio-culturally crucial strategic partner.

From a rational perspective, it can be argued that The European Union is the most prominent trade partner for Turkey. That is why economic relations between Turkey and the EU make it compulsory for Turkey to adapt green transformation and take permanent, future-oriented steps. High-level diplomatic contacts between Turkey and the European Union, the main agenda consisted of bilateral relations and European Union's Green Deal that can be developed to deal with environmental degradation and climate change.

A recent visit of the European Commission in Turkey last month, 6 April, President of the European Commission Von Der Leyen emphasized climate change as stated that "Topic number one should be, in a high-level dialogue, the fight against climate change. This is our common concern, and we all sense the danger that we are facing with increasing climate change and the follow-up consequences in our countries. Therefore, this should be one of the major topics in a high-level dialogue" Although climate change mentioned as "topic number one" in the conference, it is completely overshadowed by "sofagate" between Von Der Leyen and her colleagues Charles Michael.

Turning to Turkey, the Turkish business world is beginning to regulate social and commercial regulations. In the first sense, it is evident that this green transition will not be easy and rapid. However, with the increased environmental awareness, preserving biodiversity and re-using resources will lead the economy to sustainable and clean. In this context, with the attempt of the Pioneer Turkish Industry institutions, the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEİK), Turkish Industry and Business Association (Tusiad) started the Project "Green Transformation in the industry."Turkey aims to increase its economic competitiveness and sustainability by modifying policies and regulations according to the climate change targets of the European Union.

Consequently, the economic transition of the European Union with the "EU Green Deal," as declared by Von Der Leyen in 2019, directly affects Turkey's attitudes towards combating climate change and accomplishing sustainable economic purposes. As seen from the high- level diplomatic dialogues between Turkey and the European Commission, Turkey will be a more important actor and partner in the "EU Green Deal".