The European Union has agreed to send at least €3 billion (£2.5 billion/$3.6 billion) over the next few years to Turkey for Syrian migrants and to help support border security.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the announcement of the extra infusion of cash to Turkey during a European Union member state leader meeting in Brussels on Friday.
“It’s about additional funds of 3 billion euros, then afterwards also funds for Lebanon and Jordan,” the German chancellor said and added that the plan would “soon be formally endorsed”, Greek newspaper I Kathimerini reports.
The new cash is an extension of the EU-Turkey migrant deal, which was signed in 2016 and promised Turkey billions of euros in exchange for stopping the large flows of migrants that led to the 2015 migrant crisis.
Auditors Claim Billions of Euros Sent to Turkey for Migrants Improperly Used https://t.co/L9bmt0Eigy
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 16, 2018
The deal, which has been criticised by many, also included promises by the EU to allow visa-free travel for Turkish citizens and fast-tracking for European Union member state status.
However, Turkey has not seen any progression in member state talks, and the Greek newspaper noting that Turkey had not fulfilled the criteria for being granted visa-free travel.
Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his Islamist government have repeatedly threatened in the last several years to open up to the gates of Europe to migrants unless Turks were granted free travel to Europe.
In February, the Turkish government opened its borders to Europe for migrants, in a move Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz condemned as an attack on the EU. Turkey finally closed the borders due to the first wave of the Chinese coronavirus, though Turkey’s interior minister threatened to reopen the border with Greece once the pandemic ends.
EU to Spend €485 Million over Next Year on Migrants in Turkey https://t.co/4sEAUYkTWG
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 26, 2020
The announcement of the extra funds comes after the EU had promised nearly half a billion in aid for migrants in Turkey in December, as well.
I Kathimerini notes that a working paper produced by the European Commission claimed that the cash spent so far by the EU in Turkey had been “highly effective and efficient”. However, a Court of European Auditors report from 2018 had claimed that the money had been spent inefficiently.
“In programming, the actions under this package will gradually move from humanitarian priorities to socio-economic support and development. This will include funding for migration management and border control, notably at Turkey’s eastern border,” the report noted.
The new proposal is the first time the European Union has appropriated funds for migration management and border controls, as previous funds were spent on accommodation and education projects for migrants.
In its reaction to the plan, Turkey said that the measures would “ensure the EU’s own peace and security”.