EU cuts Turkey's pre-accession funds by 146.7M euros

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
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The European Union has decided to cut Turkey's pre-accession funds by 146.7 million euros in its 2019 budget, it announced Wednesday.

The 2019 EU budget, which was determined after months of negotiations and meetings, will be 148.2 billion euros. This means that there will be a 2 percent increase in bloc's expenditures. Despite the increase, Turkey will see a cut in its Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance, or simply IPA.

Turkey applied for membership in the European Economic Community, a precursor to the EU, in 1987. It became eligible for EU membership in 1997 and accession talks began in 2005.

In recent years, Turkey has complained that the EU decision to not open new chapters in its accession negotiations were political.

The IPA program "aims at aligning Turkish legislation and standards with the EU's, building [the] authorities' capacity for undertaking this harmonization, and implementing the reforms throughout the accession process," the EU Delegation of Turkey website says.

The EU also decided to pay 1.45 billion euros for Syrian refugees in Turkey, which is half of the remaining 3 billion euros it pledged to pay as part of the Turkey-EU refugee deal.

In March 2016, Brussels and Ankara reached an agreement to take stricter measures against human trafficking, discourage irregular migration through the Aegean Sea and improve the living conditions of Syrian refugees in Turkey.

The deal included a 6 billion euro aid package to help Turkey care for millions of refugees hosted by the country, and the EU promised to initially allocate 3 billion euros in its first tranche for projects to support Syrian refugees.

The deal was also to provide visa-free travel for Turkish citizens to the Schengen Area and accelerate Turkey's EU negotiations. In relation to the implementation of the agreement, Ankara has been stressing that it has been doing its part and the EU should also fulfill its promises.

The budget will be presented to the European Parliament and the member states for the approval next week.

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