EU Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Olivér Várhelyi made clear once again that Turkey will not receive European Union pre-accession funding during the 2021-2027 budget period.
“No funding allocation has been determined for the next Multiannual Financial Framework (2021-2027),” Várhelyi stated in his reply to a question from Emmanouil Fragkos, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Greece.
In his written response, dated March 17, 2020, Várhelyi stressed that the European Commission approved an allocation of 168.2 million euros for 2020, targeting rural development, democracy and rule of law, home affairs, human rights and civil society as well as participation in EU programs.
However, the commission’s long-term budget for the 2021-2027 term included pre-accession funding for the Western Balkan Strategy for further enlargement, while it omitted Turkey. Pre-accession funding is an instrument to support candidate countries in their progressive alignment with EU standards and policies with a view to EU membership.
The EU has cut around 1.3 billion euros in its funds allocated to Turkey since 2017 as a result of the country’s lack of progress in reforms and fundamental rights and freedoms. In the 2014 to 2020 period Turkey is entitled to 4.5 billion euros.
Support for Turkey’s EU accession process has significantly declined within the EU in the aftermath of a coup attempt in July 2016. In that regard, the European Parliament repeatedly called on the commission and the EU member states to initiate a temporary freeze of the ongoing accession negotiations with Turkey and a suspension of all pre-accession funds over human rights violations.
According to Commissioner Várhelyi, the overall allocation to Turkey under the instrument of pre-accession assistance (IPA) during the 2014-2020 period amounted to 3.2 billion euros, and the EU has mobilized 6 billion euros to support the Turkish government in line with the EU-Turkey Statement of March 18, 2016 in the context of a migration crisis.
In the written parliamentary inquiry to Várhelyi, MEP Fragkos argued that Turkey has violated international law and broken its commitments vis-à-vis the EU and its European neighbors. Fragkos sought information on the amount of EU funds allocated to Turkey, the means and procedures ensuring the legal and legitimate use of funds in the country and whether Turkey will receive further funding over the next years.
In 2018 the European Court of Auditors (ECA), which works to improve the commission’s management of the EU budget and reports on EU finances, published a report revealing that the IPA funds allocated by the commission failed to sufficiently address the problems of judicial independence, press freedom and civil society due to a lack of will in Turkey.
According to the report, progress in these areas has been unsatisfactory for several years as there is a lack of political will on the part of Turkish authorities, and the IPA’s effectiveness in Turkey was only limited.