The European Parliament just voted on the European budget for 2018. For the coming year, the European Commission has designated more than 200 million Euro in pre-accession support to Turkey. Member of the European Parliament Marietje Schaake (D66/ALDE) has initiated a move by the Parliament to put part of those funds on hold.
Schaake: "It is essential that Europe continues to support political reforms in Turkey. The majority of the funds now however either end up in the hands of the Turkish government or it is Erdogan who decides which organisations receive financial support from the EU. This allows him to restricts their independence and to slowly suppress any critical note from civil society. In response the Commission should only release the money intended for Turkey if Erdogan introduces positive reforms on the rule of law, democracy, human rights and freedom of the press.
Civil society organisations
The Commission is currently evaluating the framework within which the EU supports Turkey financially. Schaake believes the Commission should not hesitate to change the current set-up to make sure EU funds can be send to independent civil society organisations directly, without government intervention. Her proposal was also included in this year's Parliamentary report about Turkey.
Schaake: "This is the ideal opportunity to make sure that financial supports ends up where it belongs: with civil society organisations that are serious about reforms. The European Council last week also expressed its support for this idea. Now we are waiting for the Commission to make a move.
Schaake represents the Parliament in negotiations with the Council and the Commission about reforming the EU's financial support to Turkey.