January 15, 2016 / 9:27 AM / in 5 years

EU's Dijsselbloem urges swift agreement on migrant fund for Turkey

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union needs to reach swiftly a definitive deal on the financing of a three billion euro fund to help Turkey stem the flow of refugees into Europe, the head of euro zone finance ministers said on Friday.

The fund for Turkey is part of a wider deal between the EU and Ankara that aims to tackle the worst migration crisis in Europe since World War Two.

“I am going to focus on trying to push the fund and get an agreement on the 3 billion, which we need,” Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters in Brussels ahead of a meeting of EU finance ministers.

Officials said on Thursday that Italy was blocking a deal on the financing of the fund.

Dijsselbloem said he would hear what Italian Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan had to say on the matter at Friday’s meeting of finance ministers.

Germany - the main supporter of the migrant deal with Turkey after it admitted around one million refugees in 2015 - is in favour of increasing the 3-billion-euro fund initially promised to Turkey, but Dijsselbloem played down such expectations.

“It does not seem to make a lot of sense to talk about more money. Let’s get the 3-billion fund first,” he said.

Turkey, a major transit country for migrants seeking to reach the EU, is currently hosting more than 2.2 million refugees, many of them fleeing the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Gareth Jones

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