What Turkey can teach the EU

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The removal of restrictions on trans-national M&A are fundamental to EU principles. Turkey is setting an example.

One of the main reservations expressed about Turkish membership of the European Union is that the country does not appear to uphold some of the union’s core values. Turkey might, though, have something to teach the EU about economic openness. Turkey’s human rights record may not compare favourably with, say Luxembourg’s, but the country’s recent friendliness towards foreign takeovers puts many EU countries to shame.

While central bank governors in Rome attempt to conspire to prevent Dutch or Spanish banks from taking over Italian ones, politicians in Paris orchestrate unions between domestic champions to fend off Italians, and British politicians investigate ways to ward off Russians, Turkey welcomed the recent acquisition of one of its most successful banks by a Greek rival.

Relations between Turkey and Greece are hardly as warm as those between France and Italy, strained as they are by a dispute over Cyprus, yet there were not even whispers of protest to be heard when National Bank of Greece trumped Citigroup’s offer for control of Finansbank. Instead, the view most commonly expressed in Istanbul is that the deal will be good for the relationship between the two countries because closer economic ties help to cement friendships between nations.

The idea should sound familiar in Brussels, seeing as it is one of the fundamental notions behind the very concept of the EU.

Although Turkey might still have some way to go before it meets all the EU’s entry requirements, on some measures at least it can reasonably claim to exceed what passes as the union’s current standards.