Billions of euros in financial aid to Turkey from the European Union barely addressed key problems such as judicial independence and press freedom because of a lack of political will from the government in Ankara, according to an official report.
The EU allocated 3.8 billion euros between 2007 and 2020 to help Turkey in these areas from total spending of 9 billion euros, but the funds spent largely failed to address fundamental needs, despite specific and consistent objectives, said research by the EU’s independent external auditor, the European Court of Auditors, published on Wednesday.
From 2018, the EU “should better target funding for Turkey in areas where reforms are overdue and necessary for credible progress towards EU accession,” said Bettina Jakobsen, the Member of the European Court of Auditors responsible for the report.
The European Union has frozen membership talks with Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan widened a crackdown on dissent following a failed military coup in July 2016, introducing emergency rule and enacting laws by decree. Parliament this week passed legislation allowing the authorities greater control over administering and policing elections, deepening concern about the country’s authoritarian path.
The report said there had been some progress by Turkey in economic areas, but these could also be compromised.
“In areas where there was more political will, such as customs, employment and taxation, projects did help bring Turkey into line with EU law. But the results may not be sustainable because of difficulties in spending the funds and backsliding on reforms.