The European Union is considering providing Turkey with € 3.5 billion to continue hosting Syrian refugees until 2024, two diplomats said as part of a larger regional refugee support plan, Reuters reported.
A total package of 5.77 billion euros for Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, which goes to humanitarian projects, is aimed at preventing a new influx of refugees into the EU.
Turkey hosts about four million Syrian refugees. Ankara requires EU funds to be paid directly to the government. EU leaders, worried about Turkey's growing authoritarianism and a worsening human rights situation, are unlikely to accept this demand. They also accuse Turkey of using migrants as a bargaining chip.
The 27 leaders are expected to support the European Commission's funding proposal at the Brussels summit.
However, unlike the previous € 6 billion funding round, which was partly paid directly by the EU governments, the money will come entirely from the EU's general budget and therefore the European Parliament will have to give its consent.
It looks like it will renew the EU's harrowing debate over relations with Turkey, which lawmakers have accused of curbing media freedom and imprisoning political opponents without due process.
In accordance with the initial agreement on migration, in March 2016, Turkey agreed to take away all migrants and refugees who cross the Aegean Sea to illegally enter Greece, including Syrians, in exchange for additional funds. For its part, the EU has pledged to abolish visas for Turks visiting Europe and speed up the process of admitting Ankara to the EU, but negotiations have stalled.