In warning to Ankara, EU cuts funds for Turkey’s membership bid
(Reuters) - The European Union is set to cut up to 175 million euros for Turkey in 2018 that are linked to Ankara’s stalled bid to join the bloc and could block some 3.5 billion euros in development loans earmarked for the country, lawmakers and diplomats said.
In a symbolic stand against deteriorating human rights in Turkey, the 2018 cuts are likely to be the start of a longer-term reduction of pre-accession aid that is meant to help EU candidate countries prepare for membership.
“As long as Turkey is not respecting freedom of speech, human rights, and is drifting further away from European democratic standards, we cannot finance such a regime with EU funds,” said Siegfried Muresan, the European Parliament’s chief budget negotiator.
Two EU diplomats said EU governments had agreed with the European Parliament this week to withdraw 105 million euros that would have gone to help finance political reforms in Turkey, as well as holding back another 70 million euros.
Ankara can still access the 70 million euros if it improves its rights record, Muresan said.
Signaling the slow collapse of Turkey’s decades-long attempt to join the European Union, the cuts are deeper than an initial proposal to reduce funds by 80 million euros next year.