‘It’s OUR taxes!’ French and Italian MEPs vow to defy Brussels over new budget plot

Turkey: Von Der Leyen 'could have been set up' says expert

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The EU Commission announced that a package of over €14billion (£12billion) for the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework period has been agreed between the European Parliament and the European Council to fund Turkey and the Western Balkans.

The plan, welcomed by the Commission, will now have to be translated into legal texts, which will then need to be approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

But French and Italian MEPs from the Identity and Democracy Group (ID) in the European Parliament have vowed to vote against the proposal, branding it “unacceptable”.

National Rally (RN) MEP Jerome Riviere said: “Those insufferable EU Commission bureaucrats continue AGAINST the peoples.

“15 billion of OUR taxes for Balkans and Turkey!!!

“Your elected National Rally officials of the ID Group will vote against this budget!”

Italian MEPs from Matteo Salvini’s Lega also released a joint statement to condemn the decision.

Marco Zanni, the President of the ID Group, Anna Cinzia Bonfrisco and Susanna Ceccardi said: “From the EU yet another shower of money for Ankara. Unacceptable.

“The news of the last few hours of the European Commission’s okay to the new instrument for pre-accession (IPA), which provides for a total budget of about 14 billion euros, cannot leave us indifferent.

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“Once again, from Brussels billions of euros from Italian and European citizens will be largely delivered into the hands of the Turkish dictator Erdogan: in spite of all the circumstancial condemnations, of the harsh tones only in words, in fact, the European institutions continue to carry on the absurd and shortsighted project of Turkey’s entry to the EU.

“An incomprehensible attitude, still ambiguous and disheartening signals from Brussels.

“Lega has always fought against this policy and will continue to do so, Turkey is not and will never be Europe.”

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The eye-watering financial package will serve as an instrument to support potential new members of the EU prepare with their paths towards membership.

The package will provide support to Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey with an overall budget of €14.162 billion in current prices for 2021-2027, starting retroactively from January 1, 2021.

In Turkey’s case, the funds will also serve to keep refugees from crossing into the EU.

It comes despite the so-called sofagate diplomatic row between EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the Turkish President in April.

The Commission chief was denied a chair during a meeting in Ankara with President Erdogan.

Ms von der Leyen said the April 6 episode – where she was relegated to an adjacent sofa while President Erdogan and European Council President Charles Michel sat in prepared chairs – showed disdain for female politicians.

She said: “I cannot find any justification for how I was treated …so I have to conclude that it happened because I am a woman.”

Video footage on April 6 during the Ankara visit showed Ms von der Leyen clearly taken aback when the two men sat on the only two chairs prepared.

In a clear swipe at Charles Michel, Ms von der Leyen told MEPs: “I felt hurt, and I felt alone as a woman and as a European.

“I am the President of the European Commission, and this is how I expected to be treated when visiting Turkey (…) but I was not.

“This shows how far we still have to go before women are treated as equals – always and everywhere.”

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