An increasing number of European officials hope that Turkey will extricate itself from the EU accession process without having to be pushed. President Erdogan has said that he is considering whether to hold a referendum in 2017 on whether Turkey should drop its EU accession bid. If the vote passes, Erdogan will be able to define the move as an autonomous Turkish decision to reject the EU rather than a gut-wrenching European snub.
This could make it easier to normalize relations. It could pave the way for the development of a more selective and honest strategic partnership between Europe and Turkey hinged on the migration crisis, the fight against terrorism, energy and an upgraded customs union which has long underpinned the bulk of Turkish trade.
A new partnership with Turkey could also benefit Europe's political elite. Mainstream politicians in the Netherlands, Germany and France are being sniped at by the far right in the run-up to elections next year. The less ammunition Europe's populist figures have, the better.
Forging a new strategic partnership will not be easy, however. Turkish politicians have engaged in months of vitriolic rhetoric against their European counterparts and censure from Europe has reduced to a bare minimum the appetite on both sides to build bridges. Convincing Ankara that Turkish nationals will not be granted visa-free access to Europe as part of the migrant deal will also be an incredibly tough task.
But if Turkey and the EU are able to navigate through this minefield and come to a mutually acceptable agreement, the benefits would be immense.
Anthony Skinner is a director at political risk advisory company Verisk Maplecroft