European politicians consider economic action against Turkey

French Trade Minister Franck Riester has told MPs that Europe must act against Turkey at the European Council to defend its interests, France 24 reported on Tuesday.

"France is united and Europe is united. At the next European Council, Europe will have to take decisions that will allow it to strengthen the power balance with Turkey to better defend its interests and European values," Riester said, without specifying what kind of action should be taken.

France’s Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, also told Inter France radio on Tuesday that “Turkey should not interfere in the internal affairs of France”.

Other European leaders, such as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou all expressed support for France.

On Oct. 2, a European Union summit saw EU nations agree to warn Turkey that it risked economic sanctions if it did not resolve its ongoing tensions with Greece and Cyprus over disputed maritime waters in the eastern Mediterranean. 

"In case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU will use all the instruments and the options at its disposal," the summit declaration stated.

EU leaders agreed to meet again to review developments with Turkey in December, but on Monday, EU spokesperson Peter Stano said that an urgent meeting of EU ministers at an earlier date was not being ruled out.

If action were to be taken, it would probably take the form of targeted measures, rather than a full suspension of Turkey’s Customs Union membership, according to Politico.

A spokesperson for the EU Commission did not comment on what form of sanctions might be being considered, but said that Erdoğan's call to boycott French goods went against the spirit of Turkey’s free trade agreement with the EU.

While Greek and Cypriot members of the European Parliament called for a full suspension of the Customs Union with Turkey, German MEP Bernd Lange, who chairs the EU’s trade committee, ruled out such a move, "because those that are hit by such actions are often not the ones we want to target."

However, German MEP Manfred Weber, the leader of the centre right European People’s Party, the largest group in the European Parliament, told Euronews that “action is needed. As far as credibility is concerned, we have to act now. Words are not any more enough. And we must use our economic power.”