The crowning moment of the Dutch Presidency of the EU came when, on December 16, Member States finally reached concrete agreement that Turkey could join their club.

There remain concerns, though, which could continue to delay the country's final accession to the EU. Turkey's population is predominantly Muslim. The country's past record on human rights is way below the standard that the EU expects from its members. And that ongoing question: is Turkey really European at all? But, though the road to full accession will be a long one, Turkey now seems to have its foot pretty firmly in the door.

For all the private grumbling that Member States may make about Turkey's accession, the country clearly has one or two things that it can offer the EU. Strategic possibilities aside - the country straddles Europe and Asia quite nicely - Turkey also has a large working population. At a time when Europe's fertility rate is plummeting, this could be a boon for the pension crisis.

According to the latest UN figures, the average age in Turkey (26) is almost half that of the rest of Europe (46). According to Serhan Cevik, an economist and expert on the Middle East at Morgan Stanley, Turkey is the only country that will make a long-term growth contribution to Europe. "It can certainly help with the EU's pension crisis", he said.

But some caution that migration on its own is not enough to resolve Europe's crumbling pensions regime. Donald J. Johnston, head of the OECD, stressed on a recent trip to Brussels that Europe's population is expected to fall by 96 million over the next 50 years, even with a projected inflow of 600,000 migrants. Therefore, said Mr Johnston, other pension...

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