Adaptation of Turkey’s regional policies to the EU acquis: An evaluation through progress reports (1998 – 2012)
Dulupçu, Murat Ali
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Regional disparities, as in every country, represent one of the basic problem areas in Turkey. Although regional policy has always been given importance in the five-year development plans, regional disparities still remain as a fundamental problem in Turkey. According to the data of year 2001 (the latest data available at the provincial level), there is a huge income differences among the provinces as much as eleven times. This situation is not much different at the regional level. But recently Turkey has entered a new route with the EU accession process and has experienced a transformation process in regional development in terms of both theory and practice. Considering the recent practices in the field of regional development, it is seen that the concept of ‘old regionalism’ was abandoned and the ‘new regionalism’ approach has begun to be adopted through focusing on the concepts such as R&D, innovation, clusters and new industrial spaces. Legal/institutional regulations related to the acquis have accelerated in the field of regional development when Turkey’s candidacy status was declared after the 1999 Helsinki Summit. In this study, the transformation in regional development in Turkey within the process of the EU will be examined. First Turkey’s development plans and regional policies will be reviewed. Then, acquis of EU regional policy, the structural funds and documents will be examined critically, particularly referring to Progress Reports. Finally, efforts with respect to adaptation to acquis will be evaluated and the route which Turkey will/must follow in case of EU membership will be discussed.