EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi is giving a lot of money to Turkey. (Photo by Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)


European Commission hands Turkey €800 million in latest refugee payment


On September 6 and 7, the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi will visit Turkey to discuss bilateral relations and cooperation, with the European Commission set to distribute large amounts of cash as part of its long-standing migration deal.

Varhelyi’s will be the first official high-level visit of a European Union representative to Turkey since the general elections for the Turkish Parliament in May.

Brussels is due to hand Ankara around €800 million to provide for “a social safety-net for the most vulnerable refugees as part of the additional €3 billion funding pledged by the EU to continue supporting refugees in the country”.

The European Commission has further suggested allocating €400 million from the European Union Solidarity Fund to help Turkey overcome the the destructive earthquakes of February this year.

Before the visit, on September 1, the EC finalised an association deal with Turkey. This agreement grants access to the €7.5 billion Digital Europe Programme.

The money for migrants is part of the EU-Turkey deal from 2016, which was aimed at solving the migrant crisis.

The mass inflow came after then German Chancellor Angela Merkel famously said “Wir schaffen das”, or “We can manage this”. The welcoming phrase became a symbol of Merkel’s refugee policy.

Turkish President Recep Erdoğan had used the migrants situation as leverage over Europe, and the deal was an attempt to negate that power dynamic. Turkey then promised to take any measures necessary to stop people travelling irregularly from Turkey to the Greek islands.

Irregular migrants who arrived on the islands from Turkey could as a result be returned to their country of origin. And for every Syrian returned from the islands, EU Member States would accept one Syrian refugee who had waited within Turkey.

In exchange, Turkey was promised a total of €6 billion in total to improve the humanitarian situation faced by refugees in the country.