The recognition of Turkey’s candidacy for European Union (EU) membership at Helsinki European Council Summit in December 1999 marked a profound shift in EU-Turkey
relations, which has been difficult and turbulent for decades. Turkey started undergoing a drastic transformation after the Helsinki Summit and was successful in clinching a date from the EU in October 2004 to launch accession talks. In between these two dates the two consecutive governments issued a series of new legislations in order to comply with EU conditionality, particularly with political criteria also known as the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ and finally started membership negotiations in October 2005.
This study aims to investigate and analyse the impact of the EU on policy-making processes in Turkey between 1999 and 2005 by focusing on a specific policy area: broadcasting. At the simplest level, it is motivated by an academic interest in the complexity of Turkey’s everlasting association with Europe and seeks to explore the dynamics of the post-Helsinki
candidacy process by employing various theoretical tools offered by research on
Europeanisation. Thus, although it questions the whole rationale of the pre-accession process in Turkey, it looks into the domestic arena of broadcasting policy-making to explore how ‘EU accession conditionality’ is translated into domestic policy responses.
It concludes that Turkey’s response to EU conditionality was not unified across different issues of broadcasting policy. Its response to ‘democratic conditionality’ was directly influenced by prevailing ideas about ‘the credibility of the EU’ as well as calculations of the ‘costs of compliance’, and its response to ‘acquis conditionality’ resulted in a regulatory chaos. Overall, this research reveals that where broadcasting policy-making is concerned, changes as a result of the EU’s impact on Turkey were limited. Rather than transformation, the outcome of this process was a minimal degree of adaptation.