The European Union is considering 3.5 billion euros ($4.18 billion) for Turkey to continue hosting Syrian refugees until 2024, two diplomats said on Wednesday, as part of a bigger regional refugee support plan to stop migrants reaching the bloc.
The total 5.77-billion-euro package for Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, which goes to humanitarian projects and not governments, aims to prevent a new refugee influx into the EU and win time until the 10-year Syrian civil war eventually ends.
Turkey hosts some four million Syrian refugees and has spent more than $40 billion providing basic services but wants the EU funds to be paid directly to the government in Ankara.
The 27 leaders are expected to support the funding proposal by the executive European Commission at a summit in Brussels on Thursday.
However, unlike a previous 6-billion-euro round of funding that was partly paid for directly by EU governments, the money will come entirely from the EU’s common budget and so the European Parliament will need to give its approval.
EU leaders on Thursday will seek to revive talks, offering Ankara “the EU’s readiness to engage with Turkey to enhance cooperation in a number of areas of common interest,” according to a draft of the final summit statement seen by Reuters.
Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu met EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell at the weekend to discuss migration, visa liberalization, and Turkey-EU ties.
He said during a news conference the EU must resume negotiations with Turkey.
"We expect concrete steps from the EU now," Cavusoglu said. "It's been more than 1.5 years and we have not received a reply on these issues yet. We hope this summit will be a turning point and they should not stall Turkey."