Several heads of state and government at the European Summit held in Brussels have asked the European Commission to reallocate funding related to the accession negotiations with Turkey. They want accession assistance to be conditional on respect of the rule of law and human rights.
About € 4.4 billion has been earmarked between 2014 and 2020 for Turkey´s accession process. Since the failed military coup last year and the severe repression that followed, relations between EU and Ankara are tense.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said at a press conference at the end of the first part of the summit taking place on 19 – 20 October ”that EU’s pre-accession aid, which we are giving, will be reduced.”
“The evolution of the rule of law in Turkey, in our opinion, goes in the wrong direction and we have very big problems (…), and not only because many Germans have been arrested”, she stressed.
There is no unanimity in the European Council on freezing or suspending the assistance to Turkey, but according to Merkel it is a matter of “reducing it in a responsible way”.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the European Commission is expected to focus more on human rights and the rule of law. “In this way, there is less expenditure and it affects less the total ceiling,” he explained.
Earlier, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said he supports the move to redirect the pre-accession assistance that Turkey benefits from.