In a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, which was also sent to the other Members of the European Council, President Juncker outlined the progress made by the European Commission in implementing the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, ahead of the meeting of the European Council on 20-21 October 2016:
We are now six months into the implementation of the Facility for Refugees in Turkey, which was set up with € 2 billion in funding from the budgets of the Member States in addition to € 1 billion from the EU budget.
Ahead of the European Council on 20/21 October, I am hereby providing you with an overview of what the European Commission has achieved so far to secure livelihoods and create opportunities for refugees in Turkey, in cooperation with partners on the ground.
Operations under the Facility have reached cruising speed quickly, and recent weeks have brought several significant breakthroughs in its implementation. The total amount of funding allocated under the Facility now stands at over € 2.2 billion, with over € 1.2 billion already awarded via concrete contracts. Of this, € 467 million has been disbursed to the implementing partners. The balance will be paid progressively as the implementation of the projects advances. Crucially, the funding from the Facility (including the funds from the Member States) is making a real, tangible difference to the lives of the over three million refugees hosted by Turkey.
In the spring of 2016, the Commission had already contracted € 150 million under the Facility for projects to support the immediate healthcare, education, food and protection of refugees, working with a range of international partner organisations, including notably United Nations agencies and a number of non-governmental organisations. A further € 74 million was contracted during the summer for protection, health and preparation for the colder months of the year.
On 26 September, the Emergency Social Safety Net was launched by Commissioner Christos Stylianides together with the World Food Programme, the Turkish Red Crescent and the Turkish authorities in Ankara. This is not only the biggest EU humanitarian aid programme ever; it is also one of the most innovative. With € 348 million in funding from the Facility, one million of the most vulnerable refugees in Turkey will receive a debit card, onto which they will receive a monthly cash transfer. This will help them cover basic needs such as food or shelter, as well as helping them to send their children to school.
Efficiency and value for money have been key concerns for the Commission in designing the Safety Net. At least 85% of the funding for the scheme will be allocated as cash for the refugees themselves, with the remainder serving to establish the system, manage the selection of eligible beneficiaries, and ensure proper monitoring. Many of the refugees in Turkey are vulnerable and live in conditions of extreme poverty, and I have no doubt that the Safety Net will make a significant difference to their lives.
On 27 September, two major contracts on education and health were signed under the authority of Commissioner Johannes Hahn with the Turkish authorities. They concern two direct grants worth € 600 million in total. The first contract provides almost half a million Syrian children with access to regular schooling. The second provides around two million people with access to primary healthcare services through the creation of over 500 healthcare facilities and rehabilitative mental health services for up to one million people. Services related to family planning and to the prevention of communicable diseases will be provided. The recruitment and training of healthcare staff will be enabled.
A technical update on these programmes was given in the Steering Committee for the Facility on 4 October. The Commission will continue to roll out further projects under the Facility in the coming months and will provide further updates. As of now, it is fair to say that the Facility is fully operational and helping refugees. The EU is thus delivering one of the key elements of the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016.
For the European Commission