On September 12, 1963, Turkey signed an Association Agreement with the European Economic Community, which formed an association relationship. The agreement known as the Ankara Agreement entered into force on December 1, 1964. The Ankara Agreement envisaged a progressive establishment of the Customs Union. When Turkey wished to complete the envisaged Customs Union with the Community, discussions commenced in 1994 and were finalized in the Association Council which was the highest-ranking body of the Community on March 6, 1995. The Association Council adopted its Decision numbered 1/95 concerning the completion of the Customs Union between Turkey and the Community until December 31, 1995. The Customs Union Decision numbered 1/95 involves a Section on Competition. According to Article 39 in this Section, Turkey shall ensure that its legislation in the field of competition rules is made compatible with that of the European Community and is applied effectively. Furthermore, the Article requires that Turkey shall adopt a law which shall prohibit behaviours of undertakings under the conditions laid down in Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty and establish a competition authority which shall apply these rules and principles effectively before the entry into force of the Customs Union. Article 39 also provides that Turkey shall ensure that the principles contained in block exemption regulations in force in the Community as well as in the case-law developed by EC authorities shall be applied in Turkey within one year after the entry into force of the Customs Union. Turkey enacted the Act on the Protection of Competition No. 4054 in 1994 before the entry into force of the Customs Union. However, the Turkish Competition Authority could not become operational until 1997. For this reason, obligations concerning the principles contained in block exemption regulations and the case law developed in the Community could only be taken into consideration after the Turkish Competition Authority began its operations in late 1997.
In the Helsinki European Council held on December 10-11, 1999, Turkey was recognized as a candidate country to join the European Union. On December 17, 1994, the Brussels European Council decided to start the accession negotiations with Turkey on October 3, 2005. Competition Policy is one of the titles of chapters under negotiations that started on October 3, 2005. Therefore, it is required that Turkey, in the field of competition policy as in the other policy titles, brings its agencies, administrative capacity, and administrative and judicial systems to the level of the European Union standards so as to realize harmony with the Acquis Communautaire related to competition. To this end, the Turkish Competition Authority regularly examines the entire legislation applicable in the European Union. So far, the Turkish Competition Authority has adopted various secondary legislation concerning mergers and acquisitions, agreements in motor vehicles and insurance sectors, vertical restraints, research and development agreements, technology transfer agreements, access to file, protection of trade secrets, hearing, leniency, and fines. The European Union has been preparing Regular Reports on Turkey's Progress Towards Accession, and competition policy is one of the chapters where the European Commission assesses whether Turkey possesses the ability to assume obligations for membership (See Chapters on Competition Policy in Regular Reports). Further work is in progress, which is in relation to the adoption and application of secondary legislation about the other competition-related matters.
As part of the work undertaken for the purposes of alignment with the relevant acquis, the officials of the Turkish Competition Authority, the State Planning Organization and the Secretariat General for EU Affairs met the officials of the European Commission DG Competition and DG Enlargement in Brussels in March in 2005. During the meeting the parties they exchanged views related to alignment and agreed on the future course of alignment. This meeting points out the beginning of an enhanced cooperation for rendering the competition legislation of Turkey closer to the EU acquis.
Commencement of Accession Talks, and Screening Process
The process of accession negotiations entered into by Turkey as of October 3, 2005, is the process during which Turkey shall transpose the EU acquis in its domestic law and implement it effectively. As the initial step of negotiation process a screening stage, composed of explanatory and detailed screening on 35 titles of the EU acquis, has been envisaged. Under the Competition Policy chapter which is the 8th among 35 titles in question, basically there are the subject-matters of supervision and monitorization of state aid, antitrust rules (competition rules), undertakings having exclusive and special rights, and public monopolies. The explanatory screening meeting related with this title was held in Brussels on November 8-9, 2005 whereas the detailed screening meeting was held on December 1-2, 2005.
In the explanatory screening meeting held in Brussels on November 8-9, 2005, under the pre-determined agenda, presentations were delivered by the officials of the European Commission, that were related to the legislation which took place under the EU competition policy title and with which the candidate countries were expected to comply.
On the first day of the detailed screening meeting held on December 1-2, 2005, presentations in respect of state aid were delivered by various public agencies, and on the second day of the meeting, presentations were delivered by the Turkish Competition Authority, which involved 5 sub-titles in the context of antitrust rules. These presentations were respectively delivered under the titles of an overview of antitrust rules, procedural rules, substantial rules (notices and guidelines, regulations as to horizontal agreements, regulations as to vertical agreements), sectoral rules, and the control of mergers and acquisitions. Together with antitrust rules, the subject-matter of exclusive and special rights has also been presented by the Turkish Competition Authority.
Below is the presentation made by the Turkish Competition Authority: