Cyprus’ advancement to the European Union
Landmarks in the accession course
The accession course of Cyprus to the European Union started on 1 June 1973 with the agreement of the Customs Union of Cyprus with the then European Economic Community. In 1990 the Cyprus Government applied for full EU membership. In 1993, the European Commission issued a positive opinion for the full accession of Cyprus.
The opinion of the Commission for the application of Cyprus for accession to the European Union was as follows: “The geographical position of Cyprus, the profound ties which for two thousand years place the island in the very source of European culture and civilization, the intense European influence which is evident in the values of the people of Cyprus and on the cultural, political, economic and social life of its citizens, the richness of its various contacts with the Community, all this gives Cyprus, beyond any doubt its European identity and character and confirm its European orientation.”
In March 1998 the EU started accession negotiations with Cyprus, Hungary, Poland, Estonia, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. In 2002 the European Council in Copenhagen decided that Cyprus, together with another nine countries would join the EU on 1 May 2004. Following this, the European Parliament voted for the accession of Cyprus to the EU. In 2003 Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty in Athens and according to the special Protocol attached to the Accession Treaty the implementation of the European acquis was suspended in the areas of the Cyprus Republic in which the Cyprus Government does not exercise full control (the occupied area). On 1 May 2004 Cyprus, with another nice countries officially became a full member of the EU.
In December 2007 Cyprus signed the Lisbon Treaty jointly with the other 16 EU member states. The new reformed Treaty of the EU prescribes the new institutional structure of the Union and this development recognises fully the legal value of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. With this Treaty the EU will be ready to respond to the challenges of the 21st century.
Finally, from 1 January 2008, Cyprus adopted the EURO which is an important strategic aim for getting the meaningful economic and cultural benefits from European integration. The accession of Cyprus to the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) leads to economic stability and development, changes the business environment, facilitates trade transactions, establishes transparency in prices, lowers inflation, bank interest and at the same time makes Cyprus a member of a tremendously growing market.
The benefits from the accession of Cyprus to the European Union
The accession of Cyprus to the European Union was a long-term objective of several decades. Cyprus, as a full member of the community upgraded its position and strengthened its presence in the world scene, receiving benefits both in the political and economic fields.
The benefits occurring from the accession of Cyprus to the European Union are the following:
- Cyprus with a modernized economy has become part of a new peaceful and prospering Europe in which the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots will jointly exploit the tremendous prospects offered by the accession. In addition, basic human rights and a feeling of safety are safeguarded.
- There have been meaningful changes in the field of harmonization of the legislation of Cyprus with the acquis communautaire. The Cyprus House of Representatives within this framework has enacted 551 laws and 552 regulations arising from the obligations of the Cyprus Republic as prerequisites for its accession to the EU. The economic and social reforms introduced in this framework have already improved and will even improve further in the future the living standard of all Cypriot citizens. They upgrade the quality of life in matters concerning health, security and protection of the consumers and the environment.
- The accession to the EU has opened the largest market to Cyprus products and services and helps the island to contribute positively to formulating the European policies.
- The accession of Cyprus to the Unitary Market means implementation of the four basic freedoms: free movement of persons, capital, goods and services. These freedoms offer people and enterprises a competitive environment, creating new job opportunities and employment in Europe. Furthermore, it means cheaper and easier movement for people and lower mobile and telephony prices.
- An essential change has come about in the ‘information and training’ sector. Cypriot public servants and other citizens take part in various working groups in EU specialized committees and in a large number of educational programmes organised by other member states and by institutional organs of the EU.