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IP/03/1772

Brussels, 18 December 2003

Commission agrees on the strategy to implement structural funds in Cyprus for 2004-2006

The European Commission confirmed today that the negotiations on the strategy for the implementation of structural funds in Cyprus for the period 2004 to 2006 have been successfully concluded. These negotiations have resulted in an agreement on the priorities for economic and social development strategy for Cyprus that will be supported with community funding during the period 2004-2006. Cyprus will benefit from Community co-financing of € 53,3 million during the same period. This strategy covers the priorities and the measures that will be eligible for community co-financing as of 1 January 2004 provided that projects on the ground ensure full compliance with Community legislation in areas such as regional policy, environmental protection, public procurement and financial management and control. The programming documents will only be formally approved upon accession of Cyprus on 1 May 2004. During the same period, the cohesion fund will make an additional € 54 million available for Cyprus to co-finance infrastructures in the environment and transport sectors.

In announcing the decision, Michel Barnier, Commissioner for regional policy and institutional reform, stressed the progress made by Cyprus in its preparation for the future management and implementation of structural funds programmes. Furthermore, he highlighted "the fruitful and constructive partnership and spirit of cooperation with Cyprus in developing the strategy for the structural funds". Mr Barnier also expressed the wish that "this collaboration will continue during the next phase to ensure the efficient and rigorous implementation of the programmes in Cyprus". He underlined that the agreement foresees a concentration of resources on several priorities, noting that "it will facilitate the achievement of the overall goals of this strategy, including and increase in GDP and reduction in unemployment. Cyprus has now to ensure that all relevant legislation is in force so that the implementation of the programmes can start in January 2004, as provided for in the Treaty of Accession."

The strategy and the priorities of the Objective 2 single programming document (SPD) seek to promote development and structural adjustment in Cyprus. The programme is based on two priorities :

  • sustainable rural development: create a more diversified economic base and improve the socio-economic conditions with a Community contribution of € 18.49 million;

  • development of urban areas in decline: promotion of the socio-economic regeneration of selected urban areas in the Nicosia region adjacent to the cease-fire line with a Community contribution of € 8.41 million.

Additionally, an amount of € 1.12 million will be made available for technical assistance.

Modernisation and promotion of employment, education, and training

The Commissioner responsible for employment and social affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou stated: "I believe that the approval of the structural funds' strategy in Cyprus will help strengthen the necessary structures and systems for the development of active employment policies and for fostering education, training and the acquisition of skills, particularly in the context of the knowledge based society and economy. This would certainly entail a global approach for social inclusion and the integration of the most disadvantaged groups into the labour market".

The strategy and the priorities of the Objective 3 SPD seek to promote the modernisation of policies and systems in the field of employment, education and training and life-long learning in Cyprus. It includes two priorities:

  • development and promotion of active labour market policies: such as promoting employment, equal opportunities and access to labour market for those threatened by social exclusion with a Community contribution of € 11.4 million;

  • promotion and improvement of education and training systems and life-long learning: such as the improvement of the education and training systems through the introduction of information and communication technology applications and modern methods of teaching in the context of life-long learning with a Community contribution of € 10 million.

In addition to that, an amount of € 0.54 million will be made available for technical assistance.

Supporting the fisheries sector in Cyprus

The Commissioner responsible for agriculture, rural development and fisheries, Franz Fischler, said "I welcome the approval of this document. Its effective implementation will make an important contribution to achieving sustainable development of the fisheries sector and the protection of aquatic resources which will be of benefit to Cyprus."

The strategy and the priorities seek to promote a competitive and sustainable fisheries sector. The programme is based on three priorities :

  • adjustment of fishing effort: the purpose is to eliminate fleet overcapacity by permanently removing a number of fishing vessels from the fishing fleet with a Community contribution of € 1.64 million;

  • fleet renewal and modernisation: such as the modernisation of existing vessels particularly in terms of safety and living conditions with a Community contribution of € 0.18 million;

  • development of aquaculture, fishing ports and processing and marketing: improving the quality and increasing the quantity of fish available for human consumption with a Community contribution of € 1.50 million.

In addition, an amount of € 0.085 million will be made available for technical assistance.

Background

Solidarity among the peoples of the European Union, economic and social progress and reinforced cohesion form part of the Community's overall objectives of "reducing disparities between the levels of development of the various regions and the backwardness of the least favoured regions", as laid down in the Treaty establishing the European Communities. The instruments of solidarity, the structural funds and the cohesion fund cover about one third of the EU budget (roughly € 36 billion in 2004) and have a major impact on the competitiveness of regions and contribute significantly to improving the living conditions of their citizens, particular in the poorer regions. Most of the funding is spent through multi-annual development programmes, managed jointly by the Commission services, the Member States' and regional authorities. It is to be stressed that the selection of projects to be co-financed by these programmes is the competence of national, regional and local authorities, in application of the subsidiarity principle.

For the period between 2004 and 2006, € 22 billion have been earmarked for all structural instruments in the 10 countries acceding to the EU on the 1 May 2004. The Treaty of Accession provides that the acceding countries may benefit from the eligibility of expenditure under structural funds as of 1 January 2004 where all the conditions laid down in the Structural funds and cohesion fund regulations are fulfilled. These conditions concern full compliance with the implementation rules for the structural and cohesion funds, as well as with Community policies and legislation in areas ranging from environmental protection, public procurement, elimination of inequalities, transport policy to competition and state aid.

For more information, visit the following sites:

http://ec.europa.eu/regional_policy/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/employment_social/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/fisheries/policy_en.htm


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