The European Commission’s long-term budget proposal for the 2021-2027 period released on May 2 includes a Western Balkan Strategy for further enlargement, but omits Turkey, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported on Saturday.
“The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance will support candidate countries and potential candidates on their path to fulfilling the accession criteria. It will moreover contribute to the achievement of broader European objectives of ensuring stability, security and prosperity in the immediate neighbourhood of the Union. It will also be positioned in the context of the Western Balkans Strategy and will reflect the developments in relations with Turkey,” the Commission said about financial assistance to candidate countries in its 31-page Communication.
According to experts, the new perspective treating Turkey as a neighbouring country rather than a candidate country decreases hopes for Turkey’s full membership to the EU in the next decade and may even signal possible cuts in financial assistance provided to the country.
“EU pre-accesion funds are crucial for Turkey’s compliance to EU legislation and strengthening its capacity. Many projects the citizens of Turkey benefit from are supported through those funds,” told Ayhan Zeytinoğlu, the head of Economic Development Foundation, to DW. According to Zeytinoğlu, there is a possibility for the continuation of financial assistance after 2019, if Turkey launches a new reform process.
Laura Batalla, the Secretary General of the European Parliament’s Turkey Forum told DW that the EU Commission made symbolic cuts in financial assistance recently as a warning to the Turkish government. According to Batalla, the Commission considers a reorganisation of funds and plans directing financial assistance to support the projects of civil society.
“Cutting financial assistance means further isolation of Turkish people, the EU Commission is aware of that, Batalla said.