Cyprus is represented in the European Union by one Commissioner and six members in the European Parliament. It has four votes in the EU’s policy-making Council of Ministers.

Financial Co-operation - Since 1977 Cyprus and the then EEC signed four protocols on financial and technical co-operation providing Cyprus with aid worth around 210 million EUR in loans, grants and contributions to risk capital formation.

The First and Second Financial Protocols provided 70 million EUR to finance infrastructure projects. The money was used to develop water, sewage and electricity supply as well as for the development and preservation of areas on both sides of the walled city of Nicosia, a project which benefited both communities in Cyprus. The Third Financial Protocol - around 62 million EUR - was used to facilitate greater competitiveness in anticipation of the implementation of the Cyprus-EU Protocol for Customs Union. The risk capital revenue was used to establish partnerships with businesses in EU countries. The Fourth Financial Protocol provided 74 million EUR to finance schemes that would contribute to the social and economic development of the country, to facilitate economic transition to EU accession and to support efforts to promote a settlement to the Cyprus problem. During the period 2000-2004 Cyprus was expected to receive 57 million EUR in pre-accession aid on the basis of the relevant EU regulation concerning the ‘implementation of operations in the framework of the pre-accession strategy.

European Military Capabilities - As an acceding country, Cyprus will participate in the European Union’s rapid reaction force, the European Military Capabilities, currently under formation. In view of the Government’s proposal for the demilitarization of the island, Cyprus will not provide combat troops or artillery. It has offered, however, logistics support and auxiliary services to be placed at the disposal of the EU’s military force for its crisis management and peace-keeping operations in the region. Among other things it has offered to make available to the EU a transport company, the air base in Pafos, its civilian airports and ports, telecommunications, reconnaissance and monitoring facilities, radar equipment, and medical and rescue services.

Participation in Programmes and Initiatives of the European Union - The active and extended participation of both the private and the public sectors in EU programmes has made a significant contribution to establishing closer relations with the EU, as well as facilitating the acquisition of expertise in European matters, and the modernization of the Cypriot economy. The EU programmes available to Cyprus include: MEDA (furthering the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership), LIFE (environmental protection) and COST (co-operation in research and technology), LEONARDO (vocational training), SOCRATES (education), Youth for Europe (increasing contact between young people from different countries), MEDIA II ( audiovisual means), Sixth Framework Programme (research and technological development), Multi-Annual Community Programme in the field of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.

What EU Membership Means for Cyprus and Europe - EU accession is the most important challenge facing Cyprus in the 21st century. With a modernized economy Cyprus is ready to be part of a new peaceful and prosperous Europe in which Greek and Turkish Cypriots together will be ready to utilize the vast opportunities that membership offers. The challenge facing Cyprus is to ensure that both communities have a role to play in the country’s future.

Membership of the European Union provides the most suitable environment for a fair and lasting settlement in the island as it will give both Greek and Turkish Cypriots a sense of security and safeguard their fundamental human rights within the framework of the acquis communautaire which each member-state must strictly adhere to. Economic and social reforms as a result of harmonization with EU legislation have and will further improve the living standards of all Cypriot citizens. Social policy is in line with the Social Charter and greater emphasis will be given to environmental issues and the improvement of safety and quality standards. EU accession has opened up the world’s largest market to Cypriot goods and services and will enable the island to make a positive contribution to the formulation of EU policy. Cyprus aims to join the Economic and Monetary Union in the next few years and is expected to be a net contributor to the EU.

With accession Cyprus has become the southeastern frontier of the newly-enlarged Europe. Cyprus’ geo-strategic position at the gateway to three continents and its close proximity to the important oil routes of the area can provide EU countries with access to the large Arab markets, and place them at an advantage with respect to their trade and commercial interests. At the same time it provides the Union with a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean from which to exercise greater economic and political influence and play a leading role in facilitating peace in the region. Cyprus’ EU membership will in itself bring greater stability and security to the region.

The acquisition of the island’s mercantile fleet, which ranks sixth in the world in terms of gross tonnage, has made the EU the world’s largest shipping power. Because of the island’s geographical location, serious problems facing Europe such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking and money laundering can be more effectively monitored and combated. As a financial and business hub the island will also afford EU member-states attractive investment opportunities.

Source: Press And Information Office, Republic Of Cyprus, 2005