France must stop paying for Turkey’s preparations to join the EU, according to the proposed amendment, tabled by two MPs from the governing UMP party of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The text, introduced by MPs Richard Mallié and Claude Bodin, is supported by 45 of their colleagues, mostly from the UMP and from the Nouveau Centre, a centrist formation linked to Sarkozy’s ruling party.
The amendment is a matter of coherence with the European policy of the French president, who said on numerous occasions that “Turkey has no vocation of becoming a member of the European Union,” the amendment reads.
All opinion polls in France indicate that French citizens are in favour of a privileged partnership with Turkey, but against the country’s EU accession, the text further reads. European Commission President José Manuel Barroso is even quoted as saying that there were “deep questions regarding Turkey’s accession” to the EU due to “cultural differences”.
In spite of this, Mallié and Bodin say France has earmarked almost 129 million euros for helping Turkey’s EU accession in 2011, noting that the amount for 2007-2013 reached 887 million euros.
The European Court of Auditors has summoned Turkey over the use of this money, as only 30% of the objectives of the pre-accession calendar have been met, they add.
“In view of the financial situation of our country, it is important to put an end to this political-budgetary paradox,” claim the two MPs. They ask for a budget reduction of 109.167 million euros, representing the French contribution to the EU pre-accession budget for Turkey, or 16.7% of total EU funding for the candidate country.
Commission: EU budget cannot be amended
Asked to comment, Patrizio Fiorilli, spokesperson for EU Budget Commissioner Janusz Lewandowski, said that it was not possible for a member country to pay less for a certain policy.
Unity and universality are the leading principles of the EU budget, he explained, adding that EU countries contribute to the budget in a general way, and not programme by programme. He added that the Financial framework for the enlarged Union (2007-2013) had in any case already been adopted.
Fiorilli explained that the 2011 budget cannot be amended and that Turkey’s pre-accession phase started in 2005, with the unanimous backing of all member states.
Frédéric Allemand, professor of Community law at Sciences Po university in Paris, said France had a legal obligation to pay its dues to the EU budget and could face legal action if it did not abide by it.
Allemand described the parliamentarians’ move as a “strictly political” one aimed at achieving “a media effect”.
A similar amendment last year was withdrawn at the request of French State Secretary for European Affairs Pierre Lellouche.