EU governments reportedly agree to cut Turkey’s pre-accession funds

By bne IntelliNews December 1, 2017

EU governments have agreed with the European Parliament to withdraw €105mn that would have gone to help finance political reforms in Turkey, while also holding back another €70mn, two EU diplomats told Reuters on November 30.

“As long as Turkey is not respecting freedom of speech and human rights, and is drifting further away from European democratic standards, we cannot finance such a regime with EU funds,” the news service quotes Siegfried Muresan, the European Parliament’s chief budget negotiator, as saying.

Ankara can still access the €70mn if it improves its rights record, Muresan added.

As part of its Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) programme, the EU allocated €4.3bn for Turkey for 2014-2020.

But local media recently reported that less than €400mn of this amount had been disbursed so far.

Next week, EU governments and lawmakers are set to decide whether Ankara should also lose access to some €3.5bn of European Investment Bank loans that have been earmarked for Turkey until 2020 and have yet to be assigned, Reuters also reported.

They are now likely to be made available to Ukraine and other former Soviet republics, diplomats told the news service.

On a related note, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on November 30 during a phone call that she would work to speed up the transfer of financial assistance promised by the European Union to Turkey as part of a deal to keep migrants from crossing to the European continent, Turkish presidential sources told Reuters.

According to the sources, Erdogan and Merkel also agreed to accelerate an improvement in bilateral ties once a new German government has been formed.

The EU and Turkey inked a key refugee agreement in March 2016 in an effort at stemming flows of illegal migrants to the European continent. As part of the deal, the EU promised to fast-track EU membership talks, ease visa rules for Turkish citizens and grant more financial aid.

Back in June, EU Ambassador to Ankara Christian Berger told Hurriyet Daily News that the €3bn fund for the 2016-17 term, which Brussels proposed to help Syrian refugees in Turkey, would be contracted by the end of year.

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