EU Unable to Gauge the Effect of Funds Given for Syrian Refugees to Turkey

This week, auditors from the European Union declared that they have not been able to determine whether any of the billions that the EU has provided to Turkey to assist with the influx of Syrian refugees is truly making a difference.

In 2016, as part of an agreement reached between the EU and Turkey, the group promised to provide them 6 billion to assist with the influx of Syrian migrants. In response, Turkey pledged to halt the illegal migration of its natives to Europe.

A month after the agreement was finalized, in March 2016, the Turkish government said that the daily average of migrants illegally entering Greece had decreased from over 6,000 in 2015 to somewhere around 130.

An additional $3.2 billion was sent to help refugees in 2021. The agreement’s funds provided debit cards for a portion of the almost 4 million refugees officially registered.

In an investigation last year into the efficacy of the funds, the European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that the Turkish Ministry of Education chose not to submit data that might be used to evaluate the results of EU initiatives.

The European Commission donated more than $500 million to help refugees in Turkey get high-quality education. The budget included salaries for teachers, classroom supplies, and mental health services. Auditors are seeking information on refugee students and schools receiving funding from the European Union.

Turkey said that it lacked the necessary data, according to one EU auditor who was involved in the process. ECA officials say it is unusual for authorities to refuse auditors’ requests.

The inspectors were able to witness refugee and Turkish students using the facilities and instructors working there during their visits to hospitals and schools that receive funding from the EU.  Overall, the auditors concluded that the EU financial package adequately supported refugees in Turkey, considering the difficulties posed by Turkey’s excessive inflation, the flu outbreak, and the earthquakes that hit Syria and Turkey in 2023.

According to the auditors, the executive arm of the European Union did not consistently evaluate the reasonableness of project costs or compare comparable prices across projects, which is a major flaw in the commission’s evaluation of project budgets.