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As a regional peace project whose foundations were laid in the aftermath of the Second World War, the European Union (EU) has proven to be a unique and unprecedented type of polity. European integration is a phenomenon inspired and shaped by the experiences and qualities of the states and peoples of Europe. At the same time, it is a process – there is no endpoint in sight and its evolution is ongoing. As such, it affects the lives of not only the citizens of the member states, but also of other nationals, some aspiring to join the European family one day, others broken by conflicts and civil wars. The EU also signifies the transformation of the concept of sovereignty in the twenty-first century. Being part of the European family inevitably requires adhering to the common standards, law and decision making processes of the EU and giving up part of national sovereignty. The Union is a type of entity that domesticated in many ways the once ‘international’ relations between the member states. On top of that, as an economic and political block, the EU represents a distinctive worldview, foreign policy vision and way of life in the international arena. These different dimensions of the EU illustrate that it is a difficult phenomenon to tackle with, whose study extends well beyond the borders of European Studies as a field and involves core disciplines such as Political Science, Economics, Sociology, and International Relations.

Turkey’s relations with this unique entity have been on the top of the national political agenda since the 1960s. Turkey first applied for membership into the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1959 and signed the Ankara Agreement with the Community in 1963 to provide a legal framework for the association regime created. The Ankara Agreement envisaged a three-phase integration of Turkey into the EEC involving a preparatory stage, a transition stage and a final stage. The preparatory phase was concluded with the Additional Protocol signed in 1970 that aimed to define the provisions of the transition stage and the obligations of the parties in the process. The 1995 Customs Union Agreement, which marked the end of the transitional phase, provided a deeper level of integration between Turkey and the EU in their economic relations. A new era began when Turkey finally assumed candidate status in 1999 following the Helsinki Summit and accession negotiations were opened in 2005. Despite the long history of the relations between two sides, Turkey is a candidate country that is still in the middle of tough negotiations on its prolonged path to membership. The ongoing migrant crisis is proving to be yet another challenge that both sides face in the relationship, but at the same time add another item to the list of their common problems which require a certain level of cooperation.

Hacettepe University’s Centre for Research on European Union Studies (CREUS) is founded to promote and undertake research into the political, social, societal and economic dimensions of the process of European integration. CREUS is created with the key aim offering an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the EU as a polity, EU-Turkey relations, and the different dynamics and dimensions of the integration process by bringing together academics from different disciplines and policy-makers. As such, its work involves organising meetings, conferences, workshops and programmes in cooperation with national and international partners in the form of universities, other research centres, think tanks and government bodies to promote and encourage research on European integration and EU-Turkey relations.