Turkey's 40-year dream of joining the EU took a momentous step forward last night when both EU and Turkey finally agreed to open membership talks after a marathon round of negotiations.
· Turkey faces up to 15 years of talks which will involve 35 "chapters", covering everything from free movement of goods to judicial reform. The European Commission runs the process but each chapter can only be closed with the approval of all 25 members
· Commission conducts a screening process to assess which chapters to open first."It will pry into every aspect of Turkish life," said one diplomat
· Each EU country must approve the "screening report", giving opponents a chance to use the veto or kick up a fuss
· Turkey can prompt a possible showdown and might ask for opt-outs
· Over the next year, Turkey will have to open up its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus and move towards recognising the Greek-backed government. Failure will be exploited
If talks succeed Turkey has three more hurdles:
· The commission must carry out an "absorption capacity" test, which means it will have to decide whether or not the EU can fit Turkey in
· France and Austria will hold referendums on whether to admit Turkey
· The EU must update the Nice treaty, the basis for enlargement, which may be difficult considering the rejection of the EU constitution.
Long, winding road, but many in Turkey will say worth the wait.