European Parliament votes to cancel 70 mln euros for Turkey

The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to prevent the delivery of 70 million euros ($82 million) earmarked for Turkey due to the country's failure to make required improvements in the fields of democracy, rule of law, human rights and press freedom.

The European Parliament’s budget committee had voted to cancel the pre-accession funds in late September, a decision that was confirmed by parliamentary vote on Tuesday, with 544 votes for, 28 against and 74 abstentions.

A proposal by the EP's Turkey commission has suggested transferring the funds to commitments "linked to the Central Mediterranean migratory route and to fulfil part of the EU pledge for Syria – and to boost Humanitarian Aid by €35 million."

The bloc had previously placed funding to support political reforms in Turkey on hold, to be released if Ankara made “measurable sufficient improvements in the fields of law, democracy, human rights and press freedom”.

But the European Commission’s annual report published in April concluded that the rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Turkey had continued to backslide. 

The draft report voted on by the European Parliament underlines the continuing deterioration in fundamental rights and freedoms and the rule of law in Turkey and its drift away from European values. 

The report says any decision related to pre-accession assistance provided to Turkey as a candidate country should not be made to the detriment of EU for Turkish civil society, noting that funding opportunities for civil society should instead be increased.