For many years, the European Commission, and President Juncker in particular, have supported, politically and technically, the negotiations between the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus, for a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue, held under the auspices of the United Nations.
A comprehensive settlement would be beneficial for Cyprus and the EU, and for wider security and stability in the region.
With the prospect of a settlement becoming more imminent, President Juncker – at the request of both sides – decided on 16 July 2015 to intensify support to the preparations for implementing EU law in a number of key areas.
Today, President Juncker is leading the EU's delegation to Geneva for the Cyprus settlement talks. This flows from the mandate of the latest December European Council, the fact that Cyprus is an EU Member State, that both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are European citizens, and that a future unified Cyprus will be an EU Member State.
Already during his election campaign, Jean-Claude Juncker supported the settlement process. Ever since, President Juncker has been in close contact with all key actors and has actively supported the settlement process as a matter of priority for the European Commission.
What is the role of the European Commission in the Cyprus settlement talks?
The negotiations between the two Cypriot Communities aim at reaching a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement of the Cyprus issue, in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded.
Since the beginning of this Commission, the Cyprus settlement issue has been under the direct political responsibility of President Juncker, with Mr Pieter Van Nuffel appointed as his Personal Representative to the UN Good Offices Mission in Cyprus in July 2015.
What is the role of President Juncker's Personal Representative to the UN Good Offices Mission in Cyprus?
The Commission delivers technical and legal support to the settlement process through the UN. To coordinate this, the President of the Commission appointed Pieter Van Nuffel as his Personal Representative. Mr Van Nuffel leads a small but efficient support team of Commission officials from the Structural Reform Support Service working alongside the UN Good Offices at the UN Protected Area in Nicosia. His task is to provide technical and legal advice (via the UN) to the two sides on settlement elements which are relevant from an EU law angle. While Member States are in principle free to adopt the constitutional arrangements they consider best for their country, certain elements of the settlement would have to be looked at in terms of their conformity with EU law.
This team coordinates the Commission's support to the Bi-communal Ad Hoc Committee on EU Preparation, which operates under UN auspices. Since October 2015, the Ad Hoc Committee has met regularly with Commission experts. To date, 16 Directorates-General have participated in 23 acquis presentation missions to Cyprus.
What is the role of the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission?
Since 17 February 2016, the Structural Reform Support Service of the European Commission coordinates the work of all Commission services involved in supporting the Cyprus settlement process under UN auspices. The Structural Reform Support Service notably supports the President's Personal Representative Pieter Van Nuffel, implements the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community, and monitors the implementation of the Green Line Regulation. The team is comprised of 33 officials, who are located in both Brussels and Nicosia.
What financial support is available for encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community?
Since 2006, the Commission has invested in an Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community to facilitate the unification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island, on improving contacts between the two communities and with the EU, and on preparation for the EU acquis following a comprehensive solution of the Cyprus problem. The Aid Programme was established through Council Regulation (EC) No 389/2006 ("the Aid Regulation").
Between 2006 and 2016, a total amount of EUR 449 million has been programmed. From 2014 to 2020, under the EU Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), EUR 30 million per year is foreseen. Both the MFF and the Aid Regulation include review clauses in case of a Cyprus settlement.
What are the main recent achievements of this Aid Programme?
The Programme targets a wide range of beneficiaries such as students, farmers, civil society actors, schools and villages, and supports investments that help alignment with EU standards, for example in the environmental sector.
- European Union scholarships allow Turkish Cypriot students, teachers and professionals to spend up to a year at a university in an EU Member State.
- To make the local economy more competitive, support is being given to developing and diversifying the private sector, and to providing high-quality business services to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
- The Human Resources Development Sector Programme promotes reforms and programmes to attract more people into employment or into entrepreneurship activities, helping students, workers and companies adapt and develop new skills.
The Programme also finances bi-communal activities, including, notably, the work of the Committee of Missing Persons and the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage.
Does any settlement need to comply with the EU acquis?
In Protocol No. 10 to the Cyprus 2003 Accession Treaty, the EU Member States reiterated their readiness to accommodate a Cyprus settlement "in line with the principles on which the EU is founded".
Will the Euro be the sole currency in the future united Cyprus?
Yes. The two Communities – with the support of the European Commission and of the European Central Bank – need to make sure this happens in a smooth and seamless way, for the benefit of Cyprus' economy and people.
What will be the economic and financial impact of a settlement?
The economic prospects of a future united Cyprus are very positive. Unification will bring together two distinct economies, in terms of income levels and underlying economic structures. The integration of the two economies is expected to bring significant benefits, including the attraction of domestic and foreign investment. The size and distribution of these benefits will depend on the specific parameters of the settlement and on Cyprus' policy decisions.
Facilitating sustained economic growth in both Communities after unification is in the interest of all parties involved, including the EU and the international community.
The EU's role in economic governance in support of the settlement process, together with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, is bearing fruit. There is now greater awareness among all relevant actors that the economic viability and fiscal sustainability of a future united Cyprus are essential to its ability to grow and to create investment opportunities.
Will post-settlement Cyprus need a new economic adjustment programme?
The economic prospects for Cyprus depend on Cyprus and the policy decisions the country will make. Unification would open up new horizons for the economy and carry great potential for growth. The Commission is committed to helping Cyprus prepare for its unification.
Will the Turkish language be added to the EU's official languages?
It will be for the Council of the EU to take the necessary decisions on this request, but the Commission stands ready to take all necessary action and preparatory steps which would be requested.