A substantial part of the European Union funding to help Syrian refugees is still not being used properly to meet their needs. Of the 6 billion euros agreed upon in two deals in 2015 and 2016, only 1.78 billion euros has been reimbursed to Turkish ministries and international organizations in charge of implementing the projects. To that end, Turkey’s EU Ministry commented that “while Turkey has used more than $30 billion of its national funds for the needs of Syrians who have been in Turkey for approximately seven years, a substantial amount of the 3 billion euros promised by the EU in Nov. 2015 has effectively not been used in the field.”
The money that has been transferred so far went to international organizations, to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior. Yet, that was not equal to the funds being actively used to meet the needs of Syrian refugees, the ministry commented further, adding that “unfortunately, the spending mechanism of the EU funds are not working fast.” In the past, Ankara has argued that it would be better to give the money directly to the government – something the EU opposes, claiming that it always reimburses humanitarian funding through specialized agencies and non-governmental institutions so it goes directly to those in need.
Along with the extra funds in return for hosting Syrian refugees, Brussels also tentatively promised granting visa-free facility for Turkish nationals after Ankara had agreed to cooperate in stopping migrants crossing the Aegean Sea to Greece. Yet, despite all these pledges and efforts, relations between Turkey and the EU have deteriorated over the past year. EU officials have repeatedly said that Turkey has a long way ahead before it can actually become a member of the bloc.