The EU fully supports the current negotiations between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities which aim to reach a comprehensive settlement leading to the reunification of the island and establish a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in which the communities would enjoy political equality.
The policy of the EU with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community was set out by the General Affairs Council on 26 April 2004, just before Cyprus joined the EU:
"The Turkish Cypriot community have expressed their clear desire for a future within the European Union. The Council is determined to put an end to the isolation of the Turkish Cypriot community and to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. The Council invited the Commission to bring forward comprehensive proposals to this end with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island and on improving contact between the two communities and with the EU."
The role of the Representation
The Representation is the local office of the European Commission in Cyprus, based in Nicosia. The mandate of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus is to provide information on European affairs both to the media and to the general public. The Representation keeps Cypriot media up to date with developments in Brussels and is an important contact point for journalists. The Representation provides the general public with free access to information about the Commission and the European Union through publications and educational visits. The Representation also gathers information and keeps the Commission in Brussels informed of various political, social and economic developments in Cyprus. The Representation organises bi-communal events and visits to Brussels in which Turkish Cypriots take part. The Representation also organises events targeted to Turkish Cypriot community either on its own or in cooperation with the local stakeholders and the EU Info point. The Representation produces and distributes EU related content across the media platforms in the Turkish Cypriot community (through relevant tenders).
The Representation together with the Information Office of the European Parliament (EPIO) runs a European Public Space (EPS) within its premises in Nicosia. The EPS opens the doors of the EU House to citizens and residents of Cyprus, inviting them to participate in regularly organised events and activities. It also offers the EU House conference venue and facilities to NGOs and civil society organisations, to use it as a meeting point and provides advice and assistance on European affairs to citizens from both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities.
In addition, the Representation has three Europe Direct Information Centres (EDICs) in the government controlled areas i.e. in Limassol, Larnaka, Paphos. A fourth EDIC is also set up at the Buffer Zone in Nicosia to serve both communities on the island. The centres are part of the Europe Direct Information Centre Network.
Pending a settlement, the European Commission has several specific responsibilities with regard to Cyprus, over and above its normal responsibilities toward a member country:
- closely following the negotiation process and providing political and technical support
- directly implementing the aid programme to help the Turkish Cypriots prepare for reunification.
- regularly reporting on the implementation of the Green Line Regulation.
To meet these responsibilities, the Commission set up a Task Force for the Turkish Cypriot community in 2004 in Directorate-General Enlargement which was then part, as from 2014, of Directorate-General for Regional Policy. In addition the President of the European Commission appointed a personal representative in the Cyprus settlement negotiations.
Structural Reform Support Service - Cyprus Settlement Support
On 17 February 2016 the European Commission decided to transfer the 'Task Force for the Turkish Cypriot Community', the Commission's team in charge of the implementation of the EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Community and of assisting the Turkish Cypriot to prepare for the reunification of Cyprus, to the Secretariat General's Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) which coordinates all the Commission's efforts in facilitating the process for the reunification of Cyprus http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEX-16-330_en.htm .
The Green Line
The whole of Cyprus is EU territory. However, in the northern part of the island, where the Government of Cyprus does not exercise effective control, EU legislation is suspended in line with protocol 10 of the 2003 accession treaty.
Since 1974 the "Green Line" separates the two parts of the island. The EU's Green Line Regulation 866/2004, sets out the terms under which persons and goods can cross this line, which is not an external border of the EU.
The main practical effect is that the northern areas are outside the EU's customs and fiscal territory – but this does not affect the personal rights of Turkish Cypriots as EU citizens. They are citizens of an EU country even if they live in a part of Cyprus not under government control.
The situation will change once a Cyprus settlement enters into force and EU rules apply over the whole of the island.
Aid for the Turkish Cypriot community
In 2006, the EU approved aid regulation 389/2006 to help prepare for reunification. €259 million was then allocated for a 5-year programme to be implemented by the Commission.
- promote social and economic development in the Turkish Cypriot community (particularly rural, human resources and regional development)
- develop and refurbish infrastructure (particularly energy, transport, environment, telecommunications and water supply)
- foster reconciliation, build confidence and support civil society
- bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU, through information and contacts between Turkish Cypriots and other EU citizens
- help the Turkish Cypriot community prepare for the implementation of EU law once a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue is agreed.
From 2011 on, assistance has continued in the form of annual allocations of €30 million, to build on the results achieved and support the ongoing UN process. Since 2006, a total of €449 million has been programmed under Aid Regulation.
The Aid programme is managed in accordance with the EU external aid rules, through direct and indirect management.
For information on calls for tenders and calls for proposals funded under the 'Aid Regulation', please visit the Europe Aid website at http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm
In addition to the Green Line and Aid regulations, the Commission has proposed a regulation on special conditions for trade with those areas of the Republic of Cyprus in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control (the direct trade regulation ). This proposal remains with the Council for consideration.
For more information on EU assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community please have a look at https://ec.europa.eu/info/funding-tenders/overview-funding-programmes/aid-programme-turkish-cypriot-community_en#eu-aid-programme-for-the-turkish-cypriot-community or go to the website of the EU InfoPoint