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Cyprus - European Union relations


Cyprus enjoys today one of the most advanced relationships among the third countries that are associated with the European Union.

Cyprus initially showed an interest to establish an Association Agreement with the EEC in the early sixties in parallel with the British application for full membership to the EC. However with the freezing of the British application, its interest remained dormant until 1971 when it was reactivated almost simultaneously with the renewed efforts of the U.K. to join the European Community.

Cyprus entered in 1971 into negotiations with the Community which were to lead to the signing on 19th December 1972 of an Association Agreement between the two parties. The final scope of the said Agreement was the completion in two stages and within a period of ten years of a Customs Union between Cyprus and the EEC.

Unfortunately the Turkish invasion and occupation of 37% of the territory of Cyprus which caused a serious economic upheaval delayed the normal implementation of the Association Agreement and in particular of its second stage.

Finally and after successive extensions of the first stage, a Protocol for the second stage of the Association Agreement was signed in Luxembourg on 19th October 1987, paving the way towards the progressive realization of a Customs Union between the two parties. Under the provisions of this Protocol, the Customs Union between Cyprus and the E.U. should be completed by the year 2002 or 2003 at the latest. Both the E.U. and Cyprus are required to eliminate all tariffs and quantitative restriction on all manufactured goods and a number of clearly defined agricultural products (mainly potatoes, citrus fruit, other fruit and vegetables and wine). In parallel Cyprus will adopt progressively the common external tariff (CET) of the Union with the aim to bring its own customs tariffs into line with those of the E.U. by the end of 1997.

On 4 July 1990 Cyprus submitted an official application for full membership of the Communities and on 30 June 1993 the EC Commission issued its opinion on CyprusÕ application.

Through the opinion the EC Commission confirmed that the Community considers Cyprus as eligible for membership and added that it is ready to start the process leading to the island's accession as soon as the prospect of a settlement of the Cyprus problem is surer. It also undertook to reassess the situation in January 1995 should the intercommunal talks fail to produce a settlement.

Meanwhile on 19 and 20 July 1993 the EC Council of Ministers heard a presentation by the Commission of its opinion on Cyprus' request for accession to the EC. On 4 October 1993 the Council presented its conclusions:

"3. The Council supported the CommissionÕs approach which was to propose, without awaiting a peaceful, balanced and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem, to use all the instruments offered by the Association Agreement to help, in close cooperation with the Cypriot Government, with the economic, social and political transition of Cyprus towards integration into the European Union. To that end the Council invited the Commission to open substantive discussions forthwith with the Government of Cyprus to help it prepare for the accession negotiations to follow later on under the best possible conditions, and to keep it regularly informed of the progress.

4. The Council also confirmed the Community's support for the efforts made by the United Nations Secretary-General to produce a political settlement of the Cyprus question. If, in spite of these efforts, there was no prospect of a solution in the foreseeable future, the Council agreed to reassess the situation in the light of the positions expressed by each side in the inter-community discussions and to examine in January 1995 the question of the accession of Cyprus to the European Union in the light of this situation".

Financial Cooperation

Since 1977, Cyprus and the European Economic Community, have signed three protocols on financial and technical cooperation providing for a financial aid of a total amount of 136 million ECU. This aid includes loans, grants, special loans and contributions to risk capital formation.

The total amount of the first two Financial Protocols (30 and 44 million ECU respectively) was used to finance infrastructure development projects in Cyprus such as the Sewerage Project of Nicosia Stage II, the Water Development and Supply Project of Vassilikos - Pentaskinos, the Dhekelia Power Project, the Southern Conveyor Project - Phase I and the Nicosia Master Plan - civil works and construction in Ledras / Onassagorou streets in Nicosia and Kyrenia avenue (in the occupied part of Nicosia).

It should be noted that part of the resources of the above Financial Protocols were also used in joint projects, also beneficial to the Turkish Cypriot community.

The third Financial Protocol of a total amount of 62 million ECU which was signed in 1989 is being used for the financing of projects in the productive sectors in order to facilitate their adjustment to the new competitive conditions arising from the Cyprus - E.C. Protocol for Customs Union. The risk capital revenues will be used for the creation of joint ventures with partners of EC countries.

Besides the above Three Financial Protocols, Cyprus benefitted from funds of a total amount of 600.000 ECU from the Community programme "MEDSPA" (Mediterranean Special Programme Action) which was used for the financing of three environmental projects in the coastal area of our country.

EU and the Cyprus Problem

The European Union has repeatedly stated that it recognizes the Government of the Republic of Cyprus as the sole legitimate government with jurisdiction over the whole territory of the island and all its people.

The Twelve Heads of State and Government reaffirmed during their meeting in Dublin on 25th and 26th June 1990 their support to the efforts of the Secretary-General of the U.N. for the promotion of a just and viable solution to the question of Cyprus, a settlement that will safeguard the unity, independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the U.N.

The European Parliament has also adopted several resolutions in favour of a just and lasting solution of the Cyprus problem.

Political dialogue EU - Cyprus

Pursuant to a decision of the European Council meeting in Rhodes, a political dialogue between Cyprus and the EU was introduced in 1989. It foresees at least biannual meetings between the Cypriot Foreign Minister and the President-in-Office of the Council of Ministers of the E.U., in order to exchange views on the Cyprus problem, the Cyprus - E.U. and other bilateral relations, and the Union's stand on current international matters.

Joint Parliamentary Committee Cyprus-EC

In early 1992 the decision was taken for the establishment of the joint Cyprus - E.C. Parliamentary Committee. This Committee is composed of 24 members of Parliament, 12 of whom are members of the European Parliament and 12 are members of the House of Representatives of Cyprus.

Co-chairing this Committee are the British Conservative Member of the European Parliament, Sir James Scott-Hopkins and the President of the House of Representatives, Mr. Alexis Ghalanos.

The first inaugural meeting of the Joint Committee took place in Brussels on the 17th March 1992. The second meeting was held in Nicosia on the 13-16 July 1992 and resulted in the adoption of a Resolution on the Relations between Cyprus and the E.C.

Cooperation between Cyprus and EC in Various Sectors

Cyprus signed last April an Agreement with the EC providing for the former's participation in the Business Cooperation Network (BC-Net).

Cyprus participates since October 1989 in the Audiovisual EUREKA, a programme initiated by France and adopted by the European Council during its meeting in Rhodes in 1988, which provides for cooperation and development of new technologies in the audiovisual sector between EU countries and other European countries. At the beginning of this year Cyprus requested participation in the MEDIA Community which aims at promoting the development of the European Audiovisual Industry.

Cyprus signed on 29th of May 1990, the Agreement establishing the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development whose role is to assist the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in their policy towards reconstructing and developing their economies.

On the 16th December 1991 Cyprus signed at the Hague the European Charter on Energy.

For the time being, Cyprus is considering participating in joint projects with other third mediterranean countries which will be financed by Union funds under the new renovated Mediterranean policy, as well as in several Union programmes and initiatives open to non- EU countries.