Summary: Turkeyu0092s fulfilment of the EUu0092s first set of political criteria qualifies the country to start negotiations. But EU membership is much more demanding than most of Turkeyu0092s political and business elite realise. They hope that they can bargain away many of the onerous requirements for EU membership. But the accession process is not about finding common interests between equal partners. Rather, it is about agreeing a timetable for the candidate country to apply the EUu0092s laws at home. Most Turks will welcome the start of accession negotiations as confirming their countryu0092s identity as a modern, European country. The political elite hopes that it will ensure Turkeyu0092s future as a democracy with a stable economy. But the Turks will find that the EU is not just a club based on a shared identity, but also a huge set of rules and regulations. Its day-to-day business is not about values but about fire safety in shops and hygiene standards in dairies. European integration reaches deep into a countryu0092s policies and institutions. It affects not just high politics but daily life: how animals are slaughtered, how sewage is treated, and what products can be advertised on billboards. The EU covers foreign and security policies too, many of which are very sensitive in Turkey. For example, Turkey will have to demand visas from countries on the EUu0092s black-list, including from the Russian and Iranian tourists which contribute significantly to the Turkish economy. Turkey will also have to align its policies towards neighbouring countries such as Iran, Syria and Armenia with those of the Union. Turkey will find it hard to accept such a strong external influence. The practical consequences of membership negotiations will be difficult, but the change in mentality required will be even harder. The Ottoman Empire was a great power. Britainu0092s experience shows how hard it can be for ex-empires to accept sharing sovereignty in the EU, especially if they go on thinking that it is primarily an economic uni
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