An EU spokesman on Sunday denied media reports from the previous day that claimed the bloc had agreed to massive new cuts to pre-accession aid to Turkey, Deutsche Welle English service reported.
Germany’s Funke Media Group had said it saw a letter from the bloc’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, announcing a 75 percent cut to the funds Ankara receives as a prospective EU member via the “Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA).”
“Borrell did not send a letter addressed to the European Parliament allegedly announcing further cuts of IPA funding to Turkey,” read a statement by Peter Stano, Brussels’ lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy.
Stano said the media organization was perhaps confused by a letter sent to a member of the European Parliament after they had submitted a question about the aid.
“All media interpretations linking the facts and figures mentioned in the parliamentary reply to the current events or even to today’s Libya conference are completely wrong and misleading,” Stano continued.
He added that cuts had already taken place — first in 2017, and again last October.
“There is no new or recent decision by the EU budgetary authority on pre-accession reorientation, other than the decisions taken last year and which have been announced and clarified already on numerous occasions.”
Turkey has been officially recognized as a candidate for full membership in the European Union since 1999, with proper negotiations having begun in 2005.
After over a decade of protracted talks, Ankara and Brussels negotiated a deal in the midst of an unprecedented influx of refugees to the bloc in 2016. Turkey agreed to prevent refugees from attempting the crossing from its shores to Greece, while the EU would provide funding to do so and accelerate Turkey’s accession talks. However, since then, things have stalled again as Turkey has been accused of not sticking to its part of the deal. The number of refugees entering the EU via Turkey doubled last year. Furthermore, the EU has cited concerns over increasing authoritarianism on the part of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.