Europeanization is what domestic actors make of it: Immigration Policy in Turkey in Comparative Pre-Accession Perspective

Wednesday, June 26, 2013
C1.23 (Oudemanhuispoort)
Saime Ozcurumez , Bilkent University
This paper focuses on the transformation of immigration policy in Turkey by raising the following question: Under what conditions and with which actors does policy transformation take place in Turkey in the pre-accession process? The paper argues that while most of the Europeanization literature on Turkey emphasizes the significance of Europeanization on policy transformation across a wide range of policy fields, immigration policy field stands as a deviant case. While the accession process had triggered policy transformation in this field, domestic ideas, interests and institutions have been constrained by domestic actors' (political, civil society and policy makers) preferences. While tracing the drafting stage of immigration legislation in Turkey, the paper notes that the transformation relies mainly on the internalized gradual institutional change more so than compliance with the EU acquis. The reasons which define the nature of the process of transformation are attributed to how policy networks are formed, the centrality of sovereignty in immigration policy process, and the domestic interests which may diverge from those of the EU in the region. The paper is based on the analysis of the data collected from analysis of policy proposals, stakeholder meetings and in-depth qualitative interviews with key policy actors. The paper is organized as follows: First, it begins with a review of the literature on Europeanization research program and immigration policy transformation. Second, it examines the process of transformation in this policy area in the post-2005 period in Turkey. Finally, it concludes with a discussion on the Turkish experience in comparative pre-accession perspective.