Cypriot EU Presidency: bound to succeed
10.01.2012 The following article is written by the Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Cyprus, Ms Androulla Kaminara, and was published in the newspaper "Phileleftheros" on 25 December 2011.
In less than 6 months, Cyprus will have to manage one of the biggest challenges in its history: the presidency of the European Union. And I note from the beginning that the Cypriot Presidency is bound to succeed.
It is very important for the country to cope in the best way with increased duties it will assume during the second half of 2012. For this to happen, specific factors must be taken seriously into account and the success of the presidency depends on success in five key issues.
The Cypriot presidency will be judged by how successfully the country will be able to carry out and complete the legislative agenda of the EU for this period.
A successful presidency is one that brings out successfully this agenda even if it does not hold any conference.
Cyprus is not alone in defining the priorities on the legislative agenda of the EU for the period it will hold the presidency. This is done in cooperation with both countries which will hold the presidency before, Poland and Denmark. All three together are called the Trio, and have already presented their priorities in a coherent programme for this 18 month period, which was agreed by the Council and the European Commission. Thus, the Member State holding the presidency can not impose its own issues. Everything is based on consultation.
Apart from this programme, Cyprus will have to handle other issues that will either ''inherit'' from its predecessor, or are scheduled to be completed or 'run' during its presidency.
One of the most important issues, maybe of the decade which Cyprus will face is the Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2014-2020, i.e. the total EU budget for this period, which amounts to about one trillion Euros. Cyprus should ensure that there would be agreement among all stakeholders, Member States and EU institutions on this issue. Although the interests and aspirations of individual Member States are entirely different, the Cypriot presidency is bound to succeed.
In parallel, Cyprus will have to manage operations on the single market, immigration issues and reach an agreement on the issue of capital adequacy of banks. These are issues of paramount importance for the European Union. The success of Cyprus will be judged by whether it manages to create a consensus on those issues it will have to handle.
Moreover, like in all Presidencies, Cyprus should be prepared to manage unforeseen events both inside and outside the Union.
Take, for example, Hungary, which held the presidency in the first half of 2011.
When preparing the presidency, the Hungarians could not imagine that Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi would set himself on fire giving rise to the uprising of the Arab world, that a so devastating tsunami would strike Japan or that there would be drastic changes to the debt problem of Euro zone countries.
Yet these same issues dominated the agenda of the European Union the first six months of 2011. And in these subjects Hungary was asked to respond in order to carry out successfully the presidency.
In many cases, the country hosting the presidency is invited to adapt to reality and news. This may require drastic redesign of the original programme. And there must be mechanisms that allow this. The only thing predictable is that there will be unforeseeable events.
Another factor for a successful presidency is logistics. For the successful conduct of the thousands of meetings that will take place either in Cyprus or abroad, which will be under the supervision of Cypriot presidency, practical details are crucial.
A successful presidency should not only carry out the above but also convince that it has been actually completed successfully. That is why a proper communication policy is needed. Thus, Cyprus will have to manage communication in four levels: locally, in Brussels, in the other Member States and internationally. It is for Cyprus to communicate in the best way the issues it manages and its 'achievements'.
Visibility of the country
Finally, during the six months of the presidency, the heart of Europe will be beating in Cyprus. It will be a unique opportunity for the country to promote its cultural and touristic image. And this is a long-term benefit that may arise from the exercise of the presidency. This opportunity for visibility through the presidency is given to Cyprus for the first time. It's a completely different challenge than the one for Denmark that will host the presidency before Cyprus for the seventh time.
But the main ingredient for a successful presidency is the involvement of all partners. Apart from the government that has the first place, the Parliament, political parties, local government, NGOs, trade unions, the volunteers, all without exception and all together must join forces to ensure a successful presidency. In this effort, Cyprus can rely on the full support of the European Commission.