According to the EU Commission, €3 billion has already flowed into Turkey to cover the costs of educating half a million Syrian children
According to the EU Commission, €3 billion has already flowed into Turkey to cover the costs of educating half a million Syrian children

The EU Commission plans to pay for two-thirds of the second installment in its €6 billion fund for refugees in Turkey. The remaining €1 billion will have to come from individual member states.

The EU Commission wants to contribute up to €2 billion of the remaining  €3 billion left in the €6 billion deal with Turkey, Günther Ottinger, EU Commissioner for Budget and Human Resources, announced on Wednesday. That means that €1 billion has to be made available by national governments. This year, the EU will allocate €500 million and the remaining sum will follow by the end of 2019.

The multi-billion euro deal is part of the EU-Turkey deal aimed at curbing migration to Europe. Agreed upon in 2016, Turkey would stop the flow of refugees to Europe by taking back all migrants who entered Greece via Turkey illegally. In return, Turkey would get a €6 billion fund for refugees, visa-free travel and a fast-tracked EU membership.

Since then, Brussels has allocated €3 billion, two-thirds financed by EU member states. Countries like Germany and France had recently demanded that the remaining €3 billion be financed entirely by the EU Commission. Italy, on the other hand, opposed EU union financing fearing that there will be no funds left to combat illegal migration on the central Mediterranean Route, as AFP reports.

Dispute over financing

Italy's agreement to the commission's proposal is pending. Oettinger emphasized that a decision over the second payment of the EU-Turkey deal was of great urgency. There were over 8000 educators in Turkey who teach Syrian refugee children whose contracts were ending this summer, he said. If there is no longer schooling for hundreds of thousands of children, he said, "the refugee route to Europe becomes much more likely".  

Turkey has repeatedly threatened to terminate the agreement, arguing that the payments were slow to arrive. Another factor is that visa freedom for Turkish citizens provided for under the agreement has not been implemented.

When the deal came into effect, migrants arrivals to Greece dropped drastically. In recent months, however, river crossings across the Evros between Turkey and Greece have surged. Over 1,650 migrants and refugees crossed the river Evros from Turkey in March 2018, compared to 262 people in the same period last year according to the Italian ANSA news agency. 
 

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