Do you have any questions? Contact us.
Commission Opinion [COM(93) 313 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 710 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 502 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 702 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2001) 700 final - SEC(2001) 1745 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - SEC(2002) 1401 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2002) 1202 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]
The Commission was unable, in its July 1993 Opinion, to assess the extent to which the Community acquis regarding the free movement of persons had been incorporated into national law.
In its November 1998 Opinion, the Commission took the view that progress had been made in some areas, such as combating money laundering, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. Nonetheless, substantial efforts were still required in other areas.
The Commission Report of October 1999 noted that some progress had been made with regard to immigration and the fight against drugs. However, little progress had been made in the fields of judicial cooperation (six conventions were still to be ratified), asylum, visas and data protection.
In its November 2000 Report, the Commission noted that progress had been made in judicial cooperation in civil and criminal matters and in the fight against fraud and corruption. In general, the work carried out had given rise to a considerable improvement in administrative structures. However, further training was needed in certain specific areas such as officials responsible for refugees.
In its November2001 Report, the Commission notes that Cyprus has made progress, particularly on immigration policy, external border control and the fight against corruption and fraud.
The October 2002 Report recognised that, overall, the necessary legal framework and administrative structures were now largely in place. Cyprus must concentrate its future efforts on bringing its legislation into line with the European Union acquis and on improving its administrative capabilities in general.
In its November 2003 Report, the Commission observed that there were delays in aligning legislation on the acquis in asylum matters, especially as regards the reinforcement of administrative structures.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.
Free movement of persons
The principle of free movement and the right to residence of all European citizens is provided for by Article 14 (former Article 7a) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (EC Treaty), as well as by the provisions on European citizenship (Article 18, former Article 8a). Among the matters of common interest to the Member States, the Maastricht Treaty included asylum policy, the crossing of the external borders of the Union and immigration policy. The Amsterdam Treaty, which came into force on 1 May 1999, incorporated these into the EC Treaty (Articles 61 to 69). Free movement of persons is a key element of an " area of freedom, security and justice ".
Member States already apply common rules in these areas under the Schengen agreements. These intergovernmental agreements have been incorporated into the European Union following the entry into force of the Amsterdam Treaty and now form part of the Community acquis to be adopted by the applicant countries. However, most of the Schengen acquis will not be applied to the new Member States as soon as they join but later, once this has been specifically decided by the Council. This is the aim of the plan of action for adopting the Schengen criteria on the basis of a realistic timetable for implementing the Schengen Agreement.
The binding rules which new Member States must have in place as soon as they join include some of the rules on visas, the rules governing external borders and migration, asylum, police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, terrorism, fraud, corruption, drug trafficking, customs cooperation and legal instruments relating to human rights. As regards such issues as border control, illegal immigration, drug trafficking, money laundering, organised crime, police and legal cooperation, data protection and mutual recognition of court judgments, the new Member States should be administratively capable of dealing with them. It is also crucially important to organise the judiciary and the police in an independent, reliable and effective manner.
European asylum policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty, has been a Community as well as a national responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty came into force in 1999.
At the Tampere European Council in October 1999, the European Union leaders decided on a two-stage strategy, with the second stage being aimed at setting up a common European asylum system based on a common asylum procedure and equal asylum status valid throughout the European Union. The first stage - laying down minimum rules - should be operational by 1 May 2004.
Much has been achieved, including:
- the establishment of a European Refugee Fund;
- the adoption of a specific temporary protection system in the case of a massive influx of displaced persons;
- the definition of the State responsible for vetting asylum requests;
- the start-up of the " Eurodac " system of finger-print comparison for asylum seekers within the European Union.
Negotiations are still under way regarding certain aspects, such as the proposed directive on refugee status and the procedures for granting and withdrawing refugee status.
Immigration policy, a matter of common interest since the Maastricht Treaty and a Community responsibility since the Amsterdam Treaty, is currently being drawn up. Article 63 of the EC Treaty states that the Council is to adopt, within a period of five years after the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (i.e. by 1 May 2004):
- measures relating to conditions of entry and residence and to procedures in Member States issuing long-term visas and residence permits, including those for the purpose of family reunion;
- measures defining the rights and conditions under which nationals of third countries who are legally resident in a Member State may reside in other Member States.
As regards "legal immigration", the Conclusions of the Tampere European Council state that the European Union should:
- approximate national legislations on the conditions for admission and residence of third-country nationals;
- ensure fair treatment of third-country nationals who reside legally on the territory of its Member States;
- step up its efforts to ensure the integration of immigrants.
As regards "illegal immigration", the Tampere European Council agreed in 1999 to combat illegal immigration and the organised crime which takes advantage of it. In February 2002 the "plan of action to fight illegal immigration" was adopted.
Judicial cooperation in civil matters
The main instruments to facilitate civil judicial cooperation have been drafted at international level (the Brussels and Rome Conventions, for example). The Maastricht Treaty was an important first step, providing a legal basis for judicial cooperation in civil matters between Member States and allowing the adoption of several conventions. Following the entry into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam, which places judicial cooperation in civil matters at Community level, these conventions have been gradually replaced by regulations of which the most significant are:
- the Regulation on the service in the Member States of documents in civil or commercial matters in the European Union;
- the Regulation concerning jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in matrimonial matters and matters of parental responsibility.
In 1999 the Tampere European Council described the principle of mutual recognition as the cornerstone of the construction of the area of freedom, security and justice. Finally, the Nice treaty extended co-decision to judicial cooperation in all civil matters except family law.
Police, customs and judicial cooperation in criminal matters
The existing legislation in these fields stems mainly from the cooperation framework defined in Title VI of the European Union Treaty or the " third pillar ". The Amsterdam Treaty amended the legal provisions in the matter by creating a link with the " area of freedom, security and justice ". Now Title VI deals mainly with police cooperation, the fight against organised crime, the fight against drug trafficking, the fight against corruption and fraud, judicial cooperation in criminal matters and customs cooperation.
The objective of setting up an area of freedom, security and justice (set by the Amsterdam Treaty) should be achieved by:
- closer cooperation between police forces and customs authorities through the European Police Office (Europol);
- closer cooperation between judicial authorities including cooperation through the European Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust), which was set up by the Nice Treaty;
- approximation, where necessary, of the rules on criminal matters in the Member States;
- mutual recognition of decisions (European arrest warrant).
The existing legislation relating to justice and home affairs presupposes a high degree of specific cooperation between government departments as well as the preparation and effective application of rules and regulations. To this end, several programmes have been launched in recent years: Grotius II-Criminal, OISIN II, Stop II, Hippokrates and Falcone. All of these programmes have been taken on by AGIS, a single framework programme for co-financing projects submitted by promoters from Member States and the applicant countries in the fields of justice and home affairs.
The Europe Agreement and the White Paper on the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the internal market
The Europe Agreement with Bulgaria includes provision for cooperation in the fight against drug abuse and money laundering.
The White Paper does not deal directly with third-pillar subjects, but reference is made to matters such as money laundering and freedom of movement of persons, which are closely related to justice and home affairs considerations.
Cyprus has completed establishing a legislative framework for data protection. It has ratified the Council of Europe Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data. National legislation on this came into force in November 2001.
As regards visa policy, legislation has been largely brought into line with Community law. The practice of issuing visas at the border has been abolished. Visas are now required for nationals of only seven countries. However, because of the increase in the workload connected with the issuing of visas, more progress needs to be made in this area. On 30 September 2003 Cyprus announced that it was going to denounce the agreement and introduce a visa requirement for Russian nationals with effect from 1 January 2004.
Progress has been made with regard to implementing the Schengen action plan, adopted in May 2001, and preparations for taking part in the Schengen Information System (SIS II).
The measures under the action plan to modernise infrastructures for external border controls are being implemented. Cyprus must pursue its efforts to conclude cooperation agreements, in particular with non-neighbouring countries such as Poland, France and Russia.
In the field of immigration, the Aliens Act was amended in March 2001. During 2000 the Council adopted various decisions on subjects such as unaccompanied minors, the expulsion of illegal immigrants from third countries and exchanges of immigration-related information. In July 2001 Parliament adopted rules on family reunion. Another aspect of national law was brought into line with Community law in December 2001: the admission of third country nationals to study or to pursue a self-employed occupation. In June 2002 the rules on foreigners and immigration were amended in order to adopt the Member States' practices with regard to expulsion. Cyprus must still come closer into line with the acquis as regards long-term residents. According to the 2003 report all the administrative structures have now been put in place but special attention needs to be paid to training, especially in the fight against illegal employment.
Having adopted the final amendment to the Foreign Nationals Act of 2001 in 2003, Cyprus has completed the alignment process in the field of asylum. But delays in doing so meant that a very large number of asylum requests had piled up. In September 2003 the rules of procedure and operation of the Kofinu reception centre were approved in Cabinet.
On the subject of police cooperation and the fight against organised crime, the 2002 report noted that Cyprus was pursuing its efforts to combat new types of organised crime. Cyprus has signed but not ratified the 2000 UN Convention on transnational organised crime (Palermo Convention) and its three protocols. Other important conventions have been ratified, inter alia:
- the 1997 International Convention against terrorist bombings;
- the International Convention for the suppression of the financing of terrorism.
In addition, focal points and committees for combating organised crime were designated in November 2000.
Thanks to an amendment of the penal code that came into force in March 2002, Cyprus has brought its legislation into line with the 1998 Joint Action making it a criminal offence to participate in a criminal organisation. An agreement was signed with Europol in July 2003.
Cyprus has signed all the major terrorism conventions.
In general, legislation concerning the fight against fraud and corruption has been brought into line with Community law. The Criminal Law Convention on corruption of the Council of Europe came into force in July 2002, but the Civil Law Convention on corruption, signed in November 1999, has not yet been ratified. Further efforts are required to combat fraud that undermines the Community's financial interests. In September 2003 Cyprus ratified the Convention on the protection of the Communities' financial interests and the protocols to it. A corruption coordination body was set up in April 2003.
The 1977 Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act was amended in March 2001 to meet EC requirements in respect of precursors used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs. Cyprus has to step up its preparations for participation in the European information network on drugs and drug addiction (REITOX). Cyprus has also submitted its application to take part in the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. A national focal point has been set up and a national drug prevention strategy has been established.
The law on money laundering was amended in November 2000, and provides effective measures. In 1997 a unit was set up to combat money laundering (MOKAS). Cyprus also maintains close cooperation at international level in this field.
In the field of customs cooperation, progress has been made in terms of both personnel (reorganisation and intensification of training) and technical capacity (new equipment, computerisation of the Customs and Excise Directorate). Before accession to the convention on mutual assistance and cooperation between customs administrations, Cyprus will have to step up its efforts to improve the effectiveness of customs controls.
In general, Customs and Excise has also developed close cooperation with the customs authorities of the Member States. In December 2001 Cyprus ratified the protocol with the European Community on mutual administrative assistance in customs matters.
Most of the conventions concerning judicial cooperation in criminal and civil matters have already been signed. Cyprus adopted implementing legislation for the Convention on mutual assistance in criminal matters in February 2001. The European Convention on the transfer of proceedings in criminal matters came into force in March 2002. Cyprus must now ensure that it gives effect to the Community instruments for mutual recognition and enforcement of judicial decisions.
Now that it has ratified the European Convention on the protection of individuals with regard to the automatic processing of personal data in 2002, Cyprus has ratified all the human rights instruments under the Justice and Home Affairs acquis.
This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.