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EU auditors call for transparency

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To date, Turkey has received three billion euros from the EU for the reception and care of refugees. In the humanitarian field, money is being received by refugees, according to a European Court of Auditors report published on Tuesday. But the ways to get there could be more transparent and efficient, the authorities warned.

Among other things, the auditors focused on the biggest humanitarian program the EU has ever set up – the Emergency Social Safety Net (ESSN), which currently benefits 1.3 million refugees. With a payment card, they can buy things of daily life or withdraw the money from the bank. Each month they are about 30 euros available. The cost of this project is estimated at around one billion euros.

The money had arrived at the people, that is known of investigations in Turkey, said the Danish Bettina Jakobson from the EU Court of Auditors. A complete review of the two projects by their authority was not possible. The reason: The registration of refugees who are entitled to the ESSN card is the responsibility of the Turkish Ministry of Families and Social Affairs. So far, the authority refuses to pass on this detailed information to the EU Commission and the Court of Auditors – for privacy reasons, as they say.
Examination „from the cradle to the grave“

The EU-Turkey agreement entered into force in 2016. Turkey undertook to prevent refugees from traveling to the EU. In return, the country will receive a total of six billion euros from the EU and Member States for housing. Half of this sum has already been granted for 2016 and 2017. Most of the funded projects are being implemented by aid agencies on the spot.

In June of this year, EU heads of state and government released the second tranche. The window of opportunity for the Commission to ensure increased data exchange is therefore favorable, says Jakobson. Because: Even if the funds arrive, you have to send a „warning“ from the authorities, says the examiner. One wanted to „examine from the cradle to the grave“. Say: From the registration of the beneficiaries to the monthly payments.

The European Court of Auditors also sees room for improvement in terms of efficiency. In their report, the examiners point out the high administrative costs of the ESSN. There were no indications that these costs were appropriate, the report says. For large projects, you should always keep an eye on management fees, says Jakobson. This would ensure that most of the money went to the refugees.
Infrastructure expansion needed

Funding was also provided for projects in the health and education sectors. In the latter, billions will be needed in Turkey in the coming years. Among the four million refugees currently living in Turkey – the majority of them from Syria – are estimated by the Turkish NGO Support to Life 1.5 million children of school age. That makes the construction of 1,000 new schools necessary.

According to the Court of Auditors, further EU funds should have been used to expand the municipal water supply and sewage systems. According to the report, however, there are various objectives in this area between the EU Commission and the Turkish authorities.