The 6 Billion Euros EU-Turkey Refugee Deal – Is it Really Worth it?

MEPs visit Turkey to assess response to Syria refugee crisis in 2016 (Photo: European Parliament /

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) stated in a report published on April 24 that while EU aid to hosts and refugees in Turkey is advantageous, its sustainability and effectiveness cannot be guaranteed – Balkan Insight reports.

“Although the 6-billion-euro Facility for Refugees in Turkey has addressed the needs of refugees and their Turkish host communities, the funded projects are behind schedule, and it is uncertain whether they will be sustained once EU support runs out,” the report wrote.

Furthermore, the ECA stated that the European Union’s funding for refugees in Turkey “could have achieved greater value for money and shown more impact.” The European Union has provided billions of euros in humanitarian and development assistance to the country since 2016.

Turkey is home to over 4 million refugees, including over 3.2 million Syrian refugees, according to data from the Turkish government; however, opposition parties and experts assert that the actual number is likely to be even higher. Numerous refugees, according to the report, are en route to Europe.

The auditing report was led by ECA member Bettina Jakobsen, who stated that the funding was generally positive, but that there is another side to the story.

“For various reasons, the projects were significantly delayed. Second, their costs were not systematically assessed. Thirdly, although the planned outputs such as job-trainings or schools were delivered, there was not enough focus on their impact. And fourthly, sustainability of EU interventions and Turkey’s co-ownership is of paramount importance,” Jakobsen said in a press conference.

An Effective Agreement

In accordance with a 2016 agreement reached between EU leaders and Turkey, the bloc agreed to provide Turkey with at least €6 billion to assist it in managing the influx of Syrian migrants. In response, Turkey vowed to prevent migrants from escaping its borders towards Europe.

A month after the agreement went into effect, in March 2016, the Turkish government reported that the number of illegal migrants entering Greece had decreased from approximately 6,000 per day in November 2015 to 130 per day.

The leaders declared their intention to provide an additional €3 billion for refugees in Turkey in 2021. The pact, which received widespread acclaim in Europe, functioned as a model for subsequent, more intricate agreements involving Egypt and Tunisia.
Amendments for Sustainability

Jakobsen further stated that while sustainability has been established for infrastructure projects thus far, “some projects in the education, health, and socio-economic support sectors still fail to meet this standard.”

Amendments for Sustainability

“In 2015, the EU set up the Facility to channel and coordinate 6 billion euros of humanitarian and development aid to the country. The Commission has been managing the aid in the context of Turkey’s economic downturn and deteriorating relations with the EU, also due to backsliding on the rule of law and fundamental rights,” the report added.
Turkey and the EU have been debating a new refugee deal but there has been no concrete agreement.

“It is far from certain what will happen with the projects in Turkey after EU aid runs dry,” Jakobsen said.

Jakobsen also shared the ECA’s recommendations to the European Commission to improve the impact of the EU aid.

“We therefore give four recommendations to the Commission: improve the assessment and monitoring of costs; gather data on education from the Turkish authorities regarding refugees and the host communities; improve the measurement of the impact of projects; and strengthen the sustainability of projects,” Jakobsen said.


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