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, negotiations 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 Decision of the Association Council numbered 1/95 involves a Section on Competition (articles 32-42). According to Article 39 in this Section, Turkey shall ensure that its legislation in the field of competition rules shall be made compatible with that of the European Community and be applied effectively. Furthermore, the Article requires that Turkey shall adopt a law which shall prohibit behaviors of undertakings under the conditions laid down in Articles 85 and 86 of the EC Treaty and establish a competition authority to apply these rules and principles effectively before the Customs Union enters into force, 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 Customs Union enters into force. Turkey enacted the Act on the Protection of Competition No. 4054 in 1994 before the Customs Union entered into force. However, 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 by EC authorities could only be taken into consideration after Turkish Competition Authority became ready to operate.
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 chapters under negotiations that started on October 3, 2005. Therefore, it is necessary that Turkey harmonize its legislation in the area of competition, like other chapters, with the Acquis Communautaire and bring its agencies, administrative capacity, as well as administrative and judicial systems to the level of the European Union standards to ensure the implementation of the legislation before accession process is completed. Thus, to this end, Turkish Competition Authority regularly examines the entire legislation applicable in the European Union. Accordingly, Turkish Competition Authority has adopted various secondary legislation concerning issues such as mergers and acquisitions, vertical agreements, research and development agreements, vertical agreements in motor vehicles sector, technology transfer agreements, agreements in insurance sector, hearing, access to file, identification and protection of trade secrets, leniency and fines. The European Commission prepares Progress Reports regularly on the progress made by Turkey in the accession process, 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 Progress Reports). There are ongoing studies about adoption and implementation of the secondary legislation about other issues related to competition.
Beginning of Accession Negotiations and the Screening Process
The process of accession negotiations starting from October 3, 2005, determines when Turkey shall transpose the EU acquis in its domestic law and implement it effectively. As the initial step of negotiation process, a screening stage depending on explanatory and detailed screening on 35 titles of the EU Acquis was envisaged. The Competition Policy chapter, the 8th among 35 chapters in question, basically covers supervision and monitoring of state aid, antitrust rules (competition rules), undertakings having exclusive and special rights, and public monopolies. The explanatory screening meeting related with this chapter was held in Brussels on November 8-9, 2005 whereas the detailed screening meeting was held on December 1-2, 2005. In the said meeting Turkish Competition Authority made a presentation about the situation of competition law and policy in Turkey as of 2005.