Saturday

13th Apr 2024

Turkey received €1bn in EU money to develop democracy

Turkey has received almost €1 billion from the EU to support rule of law, civil society, fundamental rights, democracy and governance.

A European Commission spokesperson told EUobserver earlier this month some €979.6 million was paid out between 2007 and April this year with more likely to come given Turkey's continued candidacy for EU membership.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

The commission also said it was closely reviewing ongoing and future financial assistance for Turkey "to make sure it is fully in line with our interests and values."

But Turkey's backsliding into an autocracy led by its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has, since last July, led to over 50,000 arrests, some 100,000 detentions, 138,000 job sackings, and close to 2,100 schools being shut down.

Of those, 234 journalists have been arrested, over 4,400 judges and prosecutors dismissed, and around 8,270 academics fired.

Earlier this month, Taner Kilic, the chair of Amnesty International Turkey, had also been detained by the police along with 22 other lawyers. He was then charged of belonging to a terrorist organisation.

Parliamentary republic

The country is also undergoing a radical shift from a parliamentary republic to one that concentrates power into the hands of Erdogan.

The issue has riled the European parliament, which has pushed for the end of accession talks.

But the EU and member states are keen to keep an open door to Turkey following a multi-billion euro refugee deal that prevents people from seeking asylum in Europe.

Belgian leader of the liberal political group, Guy Verhofstadt, told MEPs in Strasbourg last week that Erdogan's hunger for power is now without limits.

"He can do what he wants. We don't take any action towards Turkey, not even suspending accession talks," he said.

The EU commission says the plan is to keep pouring money into in Turkey despite "the prevailing circumstances". It also noted the legally binding obligations that underpin the funds.

Turkey receives more EU money than anyone else

The amounts are not insignificant. Turkey receives more money from the EU's so-called Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) than any other country.

From 2007 to 2013, it was allocated roughly €4.8 billion, which is more than 40 percent of all IPA allocations.

Of that, €2.68 billion was committed and €2.19 billion paid out. A further €1.65 billion has been allocated since 2014 but not yet paid out.

Commitments are legal promises to spend money on certain projects. Payments refer to the money that the EU actually expects to pay out in relation to the contract.

On Tuesday (20 June), the EU parliament's foreign affairs committee once again demanded the end to Turkey membership talks.

German centre-right MEP Renate Sommer, who leads the group's file on Turkey, noted that an end to accession talks would also stop pre-accession funding.

"We demand the redirection of the IPA funds to use them exclusively to support civil society and improve the situation of the refugees in Turkey," she said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the EU's financial watchdog, the European Court of Auditors, said it would start to probe how the money was spent.

The auditors announced they would focus on areas like the rule of law, fundamental rights, democracy, governance, and education.

Those results are expected sometime early next year.

Opinion

Rethinking Europe's relationship with Turkey

As Turkey's democracy is in an increasingly troubled state, a new association agreement with the country should replace the current EU accession talks.

Turkey's accelerated drift from Europe

Turkey's path towards EU membership seems harder than ever in the past 54 years, after Erdogan, this week, threatened to "wave" goodbye to the bloc.

Opinion

Overcoming the plot against Turkish democracy

One year after an attempted coup, what Turkey needs is not biased and groundless criticism but more cooperation, dialogue and understanding, writes its Europe minister Omer Celik.

Turkey poised for first EU budget cut

"Turkey is going in a direction that is the very opposite of EU standards," Siegfried Muresan, the MEP spearheading the cuts, has said.

Interview

EU should use 'all means' to end war in Gaza: Belgian minister

The EU should use "all means" possible to end the violence in Gaza, including sanctions, a peace conference, and a review of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Belgian development cooperation minister Caroline Gennez told EUobserver.

Opinion

The Bolsonaro-Orbán far-right nexus

Defeated far-right Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro has given various reasons for sheltering at the Hungarian embassy in Brasilia — none of them make sense.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  2. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  3. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  5. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  6. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us