Greece and Turkish tariffs collapsed overnight, prompting Europe’s second-biggest economy to abandon plans to join the bloc in a move that will trigger the most dramatic disruption in the continent’s transport infrastructure in more than a century.
The European Commission said the latest tariff cut in Turkey, where the number of cars on the road has fallen by more than 40 per cent in a decade, was “completely unacceptable” and had been accompanied by “unacceptable and unsustainable” tariffs in Greece.
The EU is demanding that Turkey slash its tariff rates on all vehicles to 25 per cent from 25 per% and impose a new “harmonisation” tariff.
It also demanded that Turkey scrap its tariffs on imports and the levy on foreign direct investment.
Mr Cameron said it was “totally unacceptable” that countries in the eurozone “should be allowed to make decisions on our trade without our consent”.
“This is a huge blow to the future of our trading partners in the European Union,” he said.
“We can’t allow countries in Europe to impose tariffs on each other.”
The EU Commission said a further 25 per a cent tariffs in Turkey and Greece would be imposed “immediately”.
The UK is also threatening to impose a fresh levy on imported goods that has been in place since 2011.
“We have decided to impose further tariffs on Turkish imports in line with the decisions of our trade partners,” Mr Cameron said.
Greece’s decision to suspend imports from Turkey has also triggered a ban on the sale of new vehicles to Turkey.
Turkey’s decision came after a Turkish minister said that the EU was in a “terrible position” and could “not afford” to make the necessary adjustments to its trade policies, reports Reuters news agency.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of the country’s top ministers that he would not allow a “parallel state” to form in Turkey if it didn’t respect EU rules.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also said the EU’s policy was “in danger” and that Turkey’s move could trigger a “huge disruption” in the bloc.
“We are in a terrible situation right now.
I would say that this could potentially have a very serious effect on the entire EU,” she said.
Turkey has been under increasing pressure from its Western neighbours over the past few years to reduce its reliance on the euro.
European Union leaders have said they will push Turkey to reform its trade deals with other countries in order to open it up to the bloc’s market.
Turkey, the blocs largest trading partner, has also been criticised by some European politicians for its heavy-handed handling of the Kurdish minority in the country, which is overwhelmingly Muslim.