The continuing dispute on Turkish accession within the EU illustrates that negotiations still hold much potential for controversy and that their outcome is completely open. If accession might not take place, then accordingly the European Council decision of 16/17 December 2004 ‘it must be ensured that the Candidate State concerned is fully anchored in the European structures through the strongest possible bond.’ How exactly this shall look like has not been elaborated in detail within the negotiation framework.
Gradual Integration could develop into a realistic option for integration beyond full membership for the EU as well as for Turkey. At its core, it envisages a partial sectoral integration and is simultaneously a dynamic model in which integration could proceed in progressive stages. Turkey would not only be integrated economically but also politically, and would receive the right to participate in decision-making. Furthermore, Turkey would keep its status as an accession candidate, i.e. full membership would not be ruled out a priori. This is a key for Turkey and, at the same time, saves the EU from a loss of credibility.European Foreign Affairs Review