The European Court of Editors has issued a report highlighting “fundamental errors” associated with EU funding to Turkey in the frameworks of its pre-accession talks. In the opinion of the European Court of Auditors, serious mistakes have been made over many years in the granting of EU subsidies to Turkey.
The funds earmarked for the country’s accession to the European Union so far are not subject to sufficient conditions, according to the report published today. In addition, the relevant EU Commission did not sufficiently invest in projects to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, the freedom of the press and civil society.
The support for Turkey’s ongoing EU accession talks has sparked a debate about whether the process should continue, in light of the crackdown on the freedom of the press in Turkey and the persecution of dissenting voices and human rights activists by the Erdogan government.
In the context of the 2007-2020 accession negotiations, more than € 9 billion of the so-called pre-accession funds have been either disbursed or earmarked for Turkey. The European Commission has repeatedly stressed that the funds should be paid as long as the accession negotiations continue.
The EC argues that in order for pre-accession funding to be suspended, the EU’s accession negotiations should officially end with Turkey, an option with which EU Member States do not agree with at this stage.
“In practice, pre-accession funds have not yet been adequately tailored to some of the most basic needs”, says chief auditor of the ECA, Bettina Jakobsen. These included the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, the fight against corruption or the freedom of the press.