Turkey is an ‘EU candidate country’ according to Günter Verheugen, European Commissioner responsible for Enlargement. Mr Verheugen made the keynote speech at Baker & McKenzie’s 8th EU Law Conference in Brussels yesterday, Günter Verheugen, , unambiguously declared that Turkey is an EU candidate country. Turkey’s application for EU membership will begin without delay if the political criteria are met by the end of 2004.

Mr Verheugen outlined Turkey’s need to address issues such as freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and the role of the military. He said that if these issues are addressed, and if Turkey reaches a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus, then Turkey’s path to accession will be open. He said: “This political roadmap provides a chance for Turkey. It is the same chance as the one all the other candidate countries had and used. The sequence is clear, first the political and then negotiations.”

Mentioning today’s Commission debate on the draft EU Constitution prepared by the Convention on the Future of Europe, Mr Verheugen discussed the Commission’s position on the question of the composition of future Commissions, commenting: “The Commission has been in favour of the principle of one-Commissioner-for-each-Member-State, a full Commissioner with the same rights and obligations. We believe that this is the best method to ensure that, in its deliberations, the Commission has sufficient insight into national sensitivities, in a manner that does not create inequalities among Commissioners.”

Baker & McKenzie’s 8th EU Law Conference, hosted by its European Law Centre (ELC) in Brussels, addressed key legal issues and developments affecting business in the EU, and brought together Baker & McKenzie’s leading European Lawyers.

Topics under discussion at the conference included:

· Preparing for Enlargement – Developing a Legal Department Action Plan
· Company taxation in the Accession Countries
· Telecoms and future regulation in an Enlarged Europe
· Employment Law issues – Outsourcing and Enlargement
· Enlargement – A stress test for IP Rights
· Adopting the Environmental Acquis
· Competition Law in the Enlarged EU

This event underscores Baker & McKenzie’s leading role in European Law matters and the firm’s commitment to helping clients anticipate and successfully manage their EU related legal issues.

British MP George Galloway and his opponent the Daily Telegraph will leave no stone unturned to sort out what could be a spectacular libel case.