The UK taxpayer will pay millions, after the EU increases funding for Turkey
The EU has agreed nearly €0.5bn more funds for Turkey, putting the UK on the hook
© Brexit Facts4EU.Org 2020
We reveal another reason the UK needs to get out of the Transition Period as soon as possible
The EU Commission, EU Council, and EU Parliament have agreed yet another increase in funding for Turkey, despite the Turkish President’s continual drive to make his country into a regional Muslim power.
What has the EU done this time?
Despite the developments listed in the following section – as well as other moves by Turkey not listed - the EU has just agreed to send a further €485 million to Turkey on top of the €2bn already committed by the EU and a further €4bn in top-ups from the EU member states – including the UK.
“Following the Commission`s proposal on 3 June, the European Parliament has approved today a top-up of EUR 485 million to support refugees in Turkey. The funding now cleared by both the Council and the European Parliament will allow the European Union to extend two flagship humanitarian programmes in Turkey until the end of 2021.”
“One of the programmes – the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN) – is providing over 1.7 million refugees with monthly cash assistance.”
- EU Commission, Brussels, 10 July 2020
The ESSN facility operates on the basis of giving migrants in Turkey ATM cards so that they can withdraw money from cash machines.
Worrying signs from Turkey yet the EU sends more money, part-paid by the British taxpayer
Here are just four examples of how Turkey under President Erdogan is worrying the West:
- Buying its new missile air defence system from Russia despite being a member of NATO
- Turning the iconic Hagia Sophia into a mosque next week
- Patrolling the Mediterranean with increasing numbers of warships
- Threatening the gas fields of Greece and Cyprus
It seems increasingly clear that Turkey is no longer seriously interested in joining the EU. Indeed it is becoming questionable how long Turkey can even stay in NATO.
What is the “Facility for Refugees in Turkey”?
This EU fund was devised by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in late 2015 to encourage President Erdogan of Turkey to stem the flow of migrants flooding into the EU as a result of Frau Merkel’s disastrous ‘all welcome here’ policy.
This specifically relates to a Schengen problem. The Schengen agreement defined the supposedly borderless area of the EU. The UK is not and never has been part of Schengen. Nevertheless the UK Government agreed in 2016 to pay 16.5% of the first tranche of this fund (€3 billion) for the Turkish government. At its summit in June 2018 the EU Council formally considered a second tranche of €3 billion, and approved it.
That makes a total of €6 billion for the EU's Turkey Fund, now €6.5bn
€2.5 billion of this comes from the EU budget into which the UK still makes its annual contributions. The remaining €4 billion is in effect “off-the-books”. It is not in the EU Treaties nor in the approved EU budget and it was requested to come from individual member states.
Prime Minister David Cameron voluntarily agreed to the first tranche of this in early 2016.
Prime Minister Mrs May then voluntarily agreed to the second tranche of it at the EU Council Summit of June 2018. This was despite the fact that the British public had voted to leave the EU and the country was at that point (ostensibly) only nine months away from actually leaving.
The additional voluntary commitment from the UK was circa €330 million euros.
These commitments of money by Mr Cameron and Mrs May do not appear in “UK contributions to the EU”
For years Brexit Facts4EU.Org has provided detailed evidence of the semi-secret, “off-the-books” funds which the British Government has paid to the EU. The “Facility for Turkey” is an example of such funds.
These have never been included in the official figures for the UK’s net contributions to the EU.
In 2018 the National Audit Office finally vindicated Brexit Facts4EU.Org's investigative reporting into "off-the-books" funding.
National Audit Office Report, 2018
“HM Treasury’s estimate [of payments to the EU] does not include the commitment deriving from the Withdrawal Agreement that the UK will continue to participate in the current European Development Fund (EDF), which covers the period from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2020.”
“The EDF is the European Union’s (EU’s) main instrument for providing development aid. HM Treasury expects the UK to make payments worth €3.3 billion (£2.9 billion) after the UK’s withdrawal, with payments forecast to continue until 2026.”
“The government considers this commitment to be outside the financial settlement because the EDF is not established under the EU treaties and sits outside the EU budget. It also expects to meet these commitments through existing legislation rather than the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which gives the government authority to make financial settlement payments.”
National Audit Office, 2018 report
In the case of the Facility for Turkey” in particular, it is important to recognise that the UK is paying in two ways:
- The EU Commission’s contribution was €2bn, a significant part of which has been paid by the UK as part of budget contributions
- Member states’ contributions were €4bn, a significant part of which has been paid by the UK
For many years the British public has been duped, believing in the accuracy of the official figures for the UK’s net contributions to the EU. Clearly someone at a senior level in Government or more likely in the Civil Service decided that these payments into “off-the-books” EU funds should not be included in the figures presented to the public.
When the National Audit Office reported on this in 2018, we had hoped that this murky business would have been taken up by the national press. Sadly this did not happen.
We will continue to use our influence with politicians and other major Brexit groups to get this information out into the open, for the public to see.
There are three questions here:-
- Why have these substantial payment commitments to the EU not been included in the UK’s total net contributions?
- Why did two Prime Ministers sign up to these voluntary payments, one of whom (Theresa May) even did so two years after the Referendum?
- Why did we sign a Withdrawal Treaty which means that the extra funding just announced will see the UK taxpayer on the hook – again – and with no say in the decision?
Today, the EU’s second-largest funder is still funding the EU, four years after voting to leave
The UK taxpayer continues to be the second-largest banker for the EU, four years after we voted to leave. The UK will continue to be liable for further disbursements under this fund – as well as several others which are even larger - long after the end of the Transition Period on 31 December 2020, unless the Withdrawal Agreement is revoked.
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[ Sources: EU Commission | HM Treasury | Office for Budget Responsibility | House of Commons Library | EU Parliament| National Audit Office ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.
Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Tues 21 July 2020
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