Thursday

8th Dec 2022

Turkey poised for first EU budget cut

  • Pamuk: 'There is 49 percent of Turkish people who said no to him [Erdogan]' (Photo: Wikipedia)

MEPs are preparing to withhold up to €80 million from Turkey's EU funds in the first follow-up to last week's EU summit.

The budget vote, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday (25 October), is to cut €50 million from Turkey's pre-accession funds for 2018 and to freeze a further €30 million pending improvements in the human rights situation.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • EU-Turkey deal to expire in December. (Photo: European Parliament)

"Turkey is going to a direction that is the very opposite of EU standards," Siegfried Muresan, a Romanian centre-right MEP who is spearheading the cuts, told EUobserver.

He said the vote was a foregone conclusion. "The idea will go through … there is no way around cuts for Turkey," he said.

The vote comes the same day that Turkish authorities start a trial against 11 human rights defenders, including Idil Eser, the Turkey director of Amnesty International, a British NGO.

The defendants stand accused of terrorism - a charge that could see them jailed for 15 years.

"This is ridiculous and simply not true … These people were peacefully protecting other people's human rights," Amnesty said in a statement.

The EU parliament action follows a debate on Turkey by EU leaders last week.

An EU official at the time told this website the European Commission would put forward its proposal on even deeper cuts to Turkey's EU funds in the "coming weeks".

Wednesday's €80 million cut-and-freeze comes out of a €217 million budget line for 2018, designed to promote "political reforms" in Turkey.

Turkey currently receives a total of around €630 million a year in pre-accession aid.

EU states have also promised to pay a further €3 billion in 2016 and 2017 as part of a deal for Turkey to stop refugees from going to Greece.

That money was meant to go directly to charities and NGOs, bypassing the Turkish government.

But an EU source told EUobserver that €660 million of it is already being funnelled via "Turkish institutions" in the areas of health and education "for reasons of efficiency and effectiveness".

The migrant deal expires at the end of the year, but if it is renewed the EU aims to pay a further €3 billion for next year.

'Significant' move

Asked if the €80-million decision amounted to little more than a symbolic sum, Muresan said: "The cut is significant".

He said it was "possible" that some of it would be reallocated to pro-democracy NGOs, the same way the West used to support activists in eastern Europe in Cold War times.

Turkey's crackdown has seen more than 50,000 people detained, amid reports by Human Rights Watch, a US-based NGO, of police torture.

It has also seen Turkey seek the extradition from EU states of people whom deemed to be plotters or sympathisers of last year's failed coup.

Speaking in Athens on Tuesday, Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu urged Greek courts to hand over two soldiers who had fled to the country.

"We would not want our neighbour, Greece, with whom we are improving our ties, to be a safe haven for Gulenists," he said, referring to Fethullah Gulen, a US-based opponent of Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Cavusoglu said Erdogan was "greatly disappointed" that Greek courts had earlier declined to extradite eight other Turkish soldiers.

Nikos Kotzias, Greece's foreign minister, said Greek judges had acted independently of the government. He said their decisions had to be respected even if "it doesn't please some"

Turkish liberals

Kotzias spoke despite the fact that, just last week, 1,194 people arrived on Greek islands from Turkey, amid concern that Ankara might use migrants to put pressure on the EU.

Speaking to CNN on Wednesday, Orhan Pamuk, a Nobel prize-winning Turkish writer who also lives in the US, urged the West not to give up on Turkish people.

"Don't forget that 49 percent of Turkish voters voted for … what we today call the liberal values of Europe," he said, referring to a referendum, in April, on boosting Erdogan's constitutional powers.

"Turkey is not only Erdogan's party. There is 49 percent of Turkish people who said no to him," Pamuk said.

Rights watchdog to visit Turkey over rule of law

The Strasbourg-based human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, is heading to Ankara next week. The trip follows new plans by Ankara to meet EU demands for reforms in areas like anti-terror legislation.

Exclusive

Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout

Josep Borrell, the EU's foreign policy chief, is currently drawing a pension from a European Parliament fund that is some €400m in debt and may require a taxpayer bailout at a time of rising inflation and high energy costs.

Opinion

The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war

From the outset, arms manufacturers eyed this war as a profitable business opportunity. Structural changes took place across the EU, not only to fast-track arms to Ukraine, but also to make more public finance available to the highly-lucrative arms industry.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  2. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  3. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  4. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  5. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  6. Autocrats make us all less secure
  7. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity
  8. German top court declares €800bn EU recovery fund 'legal'

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us