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Cyprus and the EU: Appraisals and challenges

28.01.2013 Speech by Mr Georgios Markopouliotis, Head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, at the event organized by the Center for European and International Affairs of the University of Nicosia in cooperation with Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute on the Launch of Policy Paper entitled CYPRUS AND THE EU: APPRAISAL AND CHALLENGES, on Monday, 28 January 2012, 16:00, at the UNESCO Amphitheatre, Europa Building, University of Nicosia.

Thank you dear professor Theofanous,

Dear Deputy Minister Mr Mavrogiannis, Dear Andreas,

Dear President of the Council of the University of Nicosia Mr Peristiani,

Dear Rector of the University of Nicosia Mr Attalides, Dear Michali

Dear Director of the Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute Mr Bertoncini,

Dear Mr Drevet, Jean-François

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be here today and address this timely event. I would not think of a better time to present a policy paper on Cyprus and the European Union than now, just a few weeks after the conclusion of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU. Let me also commend the authors, Mr Drevet and Professor Theofanous, for their very good work that is a most welcome addition to the relevant academic research.

At the foreword of the paper, it is stated that for any small Member State, the assumption of the rotating Presidency for the first time is of profound importance. I could not agree more. Steering the Presidency of the Union is certainly a challenging task-especially for a small member state with a particular geographical location that has never before been at the helms of the Council. However, the Cyprus Presidency proved that such challenges can be a catalyst for success. Indeed, Cypriots can look back at the second half of 2012 and take pride of their achievements.

In my speeches, I often like to quote a phrase by President Barroso: ''In a world of giants, size matters.'' This of course refers to the added value of the EU in a globalized world. However, in holding a successful Presidency, it is crystal clear that a country's size does not matter; it is the commitment to the European project, the willingness to move forward the EU's legislative agenda that counts. And Cyprus proved its commitment and willingness as well as its efficiency and professionalism during its Council Presidency

Obviously, not all problems can be solved in six months. Not all files can be closed. Nevertheless, a lot of important groundwork was done during the Cyprus Presidency:

•       After some 30 years of debate, and based on Commission proposals, an agreement was finally reached between Member States - even if not all - on the Single European Patent.

•       Under the Cyprus Presidency, there was an agreement in the Council on the Single Supervisory Mechanism, marking the first step towards breaking the vicious cycle between banks and sovereigns.

•       We have concluded negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, and we have agreed to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan.

•       A concrete outcome of the Cyprus Presidency was the Limassol declaration, giving a new impetus to our integrated maritime policy.

•       Finally, and I could of course quote other matters, but among the most important, progress was also made on the Asylum Package and it has brought us very close to concluding the discussions on the Common European Asylum System.

Despite the important efforts deployed by the Cyprus Presidency, unfortunately we have not had the chance to break the deadlock in the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, something both Parliament and the Commission would have welcomed.

The Cyprus Presidency made the considerable attempts to reach a consensus. However, the conditions were not yet met to reach agreement.

Clearly, these have been the most difficult and complex budget negotiations ever.

As President Barroso said, negotiations have reached a point where further cuts risk weakening the European Union as such, while our common goal should be to strengthen our Union.

The MFF is a fundamental European tool for growth, for investment, for solidarity - concrete solidarity. The Commission will continue to work towards an agreement between Member States and also between our institutions. And we need that agreement. We have witnessed the extremely difficult negotiations on the European Union's budget for 2013 and the amending budget for 2012, the Cyprus Presidency made a tremendous and at the end successful effort. It is obvious that it will be negative for us if we cannot have a multiannual budget that offers predictability and provides for investment in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When I took office in Cyprus last March, I was impressed by the determination of the civil service, of the people of Cyprus, to make this Presidency a successful one. When asked to speak on the subject, I often said that the most important element for a successful Presidency is the ability to broker deals and build consensus. Judging from the results, the Cyprus Presidency passed this test with flying colours. And as Vice President Sefcovic said, it was a Presidency conducted in a fair and open manner.

Of course, these achievements would not have been possible without a very professional team headed by Deputy Minister Mavrogiannis. Andreas Mavrogiannis himself led the process tirelessly with ability, commitment, professionalism, deep knowledge of the substance and deep understanding of the partners. They all deserve much credit, as do all the people in Cyprus that worked tirelessly to get things done.

I truly believe that over the last few months, while many important and difficult challenges remain, notably the social ones, we have regained trust, we have reaffirmed composure and recovered momentum.

The Cyprus Presidency can therefore look back with satisfaction at a number of important achievements in economically and socially difficult times. President Barroso and the whole of the Commission have already paid tribute. I would also like to thank Cyprus for a great job done. The Presidency, the whole of Cyprus, deserves a lot of credit for all its achievements.

I thank you for your attention.
Thank you dear professor Theofanous,

Dear Deputy Minister Mr Mavrogiannis, Dear Andreas,

Dear President of the Council of the University of Nicosia Mr Peristiani,

Dear Rector of the University of Nicosia Mr Attalides, Dear Michali

Dear Director of the Notre Europe – Jacques Delors Institute Mr Bertoncini,

Dear Mr Drevet, Jean-François

It is an honour and a pleasure for me to be here today and address this timely event. I would not think of a better time to present a policy paper on Cyprus and the European Union than now, just a few weeks after the conclusion of the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU. Let me also commend the authors, Mr Drevet and Professor Theofanous, for their very good work that is a most welcome addition to the relevant academic research.

At the foreword of the paper, it is stated that for any small Member State, the assumption of the rotating Presidency for the first time is of profound importance. I could not agree more. Steering the Presidency of the Union is certainly a challenging task-especially for a small member state with a particular geographical location that has never before been at the helms of the Council. However, the Cyprus Presidency proved that such challenges can be a catalyst for success. Indeed, Cypriots can look back at the second half of 2012 and take pride of their achievements.

In my speeches, I often like to quote a phrase by President Barroso: ''In a world of giants, size matters.'' This of course refers to the added value of the EU in a globalized world. However, in holding a successful Presidency, it is crystal clear that a country's size does not matter; it is the commitment to the European project, the willingness to move forward the EU's legislative agenda that counts. And Cyprus proved its commitment and willingness as well as its efficiency and professionalism during its Council Presidency

Obviously, not all problems can be solved in six months. Not all files can be closed. Nevertheless, a lot of important groundwork was done during the Cyprus Presidency:

•       After some 30 years of debate, and based on Commission proposals, an agreement was finally reached between Member States - even if not all - on the Single European Patent.

•       Under the Cyprus Presidency, there was an agreement in the Council on the Single Supervisory Mechanism, marking the first step towards breaking the vicious cycle between banks and sovereigns.

•       We have concluded negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, and we have agreed to launch negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with Japan.

•       A concrete outcome of the Cyprus Presidency was the Limassol declaration, giving a new impetus to our integrated maritime policy.

•       Finally, and I could of course quote other matters, but among the most important, progress was also made on the Asylum Package and it has brought us very close to concluding the discussions on the Common European Asylum System.

Despite the important efforts deployed by the Cyprus Presidency, unfortunately we have not had the chance to break the deadlock in the negotiations on the multiannual financial framework, something both Parliament and the Commission would have welcomed.

The Cyprus Presidency made the considerable attempts to reach a consensus. However, the conditions were not yet met to reach agreement.

Clearly, these have been the most difficult and complex budget negotiations ever.

As President Barroso said, negotiations have reached a point where further cuts risk weakening the European Union as such, while our common goal should be to strengthen our Union.

The MFF is a fundamental European tool for growth, for investment, for solidarity - concrete solidarity. The Commission will continue to work towards an agreement between Member States and also between our institutions. And we need that agreement. We have witnessed the extremely difficult negotiations on the European Union's budget for 2013 and the amending budget for 2012, the Cyprus Presidency made a tremendous and at the end successful effort. It is obvious that it will be negative for us if we cannot have a multiannual budget that offers predictability and provides for investment in Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

When I took office in Cyprus last March, I was impressed by the determination of the civil service, of the people of Cyprus, to make this Presidency a successful one. When asked to speak on the subject, I often said that the most important element for a successful Presidency is the ability to broker deals and build consensus. Judging from the results, the Cyprus Presidency passed this test with flying colours. And as Vice President Sefcovic said, it was a Presidency conducted in a fair and open manner.

Of course, these achievements would not have been possible without a very professional team headed by Deputy Minister Mavrogiannis. Andreas Mavrogiannis himself led the process tirelessly with ability, commitment, professionalism, deep knowledge of the substance and deep understanding of the partners. They all deserve much credit, as do all the people in Cyprus that worked tirelessly to get things done.

I truly believe that over the last few months, while many important and difficult challenges remain, notably the social ones, we have regained trust, we have reaffirmed composure and recovered momentum.

The Cyprus Presidency can therefore look back with satisfaction at a number of important achievements in economically and socially difficult times. President Barroso and the whole of the Commission have already paid tribute. I would also like to thank Cyprus for a great job done. The Presidency, the whole of Cyprus, deserves a lot of credit for all its achievements.

I thank you for your attention.

Additional information

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