European Union to cut funds earmarked for Turkey to join bloc

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"We agreed ... that we will ask the Commission to cut pre-accession aid in a responsible way", German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters in the early hours of Friday morning at the end of the first day of a summit in Brussels. A noticeable change in Germany's stance on Turkey in particular was linked with leaving elections behind by some as German politicians who embraced a tougher tone during the campaign leading up to the September 24 elections. "But, the next step must be communication with Turkey".

"We want to speak with Turkey, rather than just about it", Merkel said.

Hours later she said that she and other European Union leaders held very important talks on Turkey and that the bloc's executive arm would work on proposals for reducing financial aid that has been channeled to helping the country prepare for membership. "The perceptible change in Germany's position after the election can inspire both Ankara and Berlin to fix relations have that have already deteriorated due to various reasons", he added.

But speaking to journalists after the a dinner at which leaders discussed relations with Turkey, Merkel said she wanted a common European Union position on the accession talks and said dialogue with Turkey had to continue.

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About € 4.4 billion has been earmarked between 2014 and 2020 for Turkey´s accession process.

The official conclusions of the summit did not mention the agreement to cut back on funds to Turkey, stating merely that the leaders "held a debate on relations" with the country.

The 2017 EU budget for Turkey is 500 million euros, and the European Parliament has proposed to initially cut 50 million, with another 30 million for further cuts in case of new diplomatic showdowns with Turkey.

"I will also make clear that Turkey is doing a great job on the refugees and that we have obligations under the EU-Turkey deal".

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