Günther Oettinger: Countries must spend more on EU-Turkey refugee deal

Commission looks to governments to fulfill second payment to Turkey.

By Cynthia KROET

German EU Commissioner for budget and human resources Gunther Oettinger

European Commissioner for Budget Günther Oettinger says EU countries must contribute more money from national budgets to meet commitments under the EU-Turkey refugee agreement.

Oettinger promised €300 million from the EU budget to meet a €3 billion payment due by the end of 2018, but told German magazine Der Spiegel that individual countries must come up with the remaining funds.

“The member states will have to finance at least two billion,” Oettinger said in an interview to be published in print Saturday.

Under a March 2016 deal, the EU pledged financial aid to Turkey to help the country house refugees. In exchange, Turkey agreed to stop migrants reaching Europe.

A first payment of €3 billion is scheduled by the end of this year. This is being met by €1 billion from the EU budget and €2 billion from member countries.

Germany promised around €500 million so far, and there is pressure for this figure to rise for the second tranche. However, Oettinger’s message conflicts with the federal government’s stance to stop or reduce so-called pre-accession payments to Turkey.

Germany and Turkey are embroiled in a diplomatic row after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told Turkish citizens living in Germany how to vote in the September 24 election.