Cyprus has always been a part of the European family of nations. Accession to the EU was a natural choice for Cyprus, one that was dictated by its culture and civilization, its history, its European outlook and its traditions of democracy and freedom.
On 1 May 2004 the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU completing a long journey that lasted more than three decades. (For details on this journey see section “History” of our website”) The president of the Republic of Cyprus signed the Accession Treaty on 16 April 2003 in Athens, Greece and on 14 July the House of Representatives ratified the Treaty of Accession unanimously. Cyprus has ratified the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe on 30 June 2005, a proof of the commitment of the Republic of Cyprus in the European project.
Cyprus Representation in the EU
One Commissioner represents Cyprus in the Union, six members in the European Parliament and four members in the EU’s policymaking body of the Council of Ministers. Cyprus is also represented in the Court of Justice of the European Communities (1 representative), at the Court of First Instance (1 representative), at the Court of Auditors (1 representative), at the Committee of the Regions (6 representatives) and at the European Economic and Social Committee (6 representatives). The Republic of Cyprus is actively participating in the formation and implementation of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU as well as in the European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP).
Participation in Programmes and Initiatives of the European Union
The active and extended participation of both the private and the public sectors in EU programmes has made a significant contribution to establishing closer relations with the EU, as well as facilitating the acquisition of expertise in European matters, and the modernization of the Cypriot economy. The EU programmes available to Cyprus include: MEDA (furthering the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership), LIFE (environmental protection) and COST (co-operation in research and technology), LEONARDO (vocational training), SOCRATES (education), Youth for Europe (increasing contact between young people from different countries), MEDIA II (audiovisual means), Sixth Framework Programme (research and technological development), Multi-Annual Community Programme in the field of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship.
What EU Membership Means for Cyprus and Europe
EU accession is the most important challenge facing Cyprus in the 21st century. With a modernized economy Cyprus is ready to be part of a new peaceful and prosperous Europe in which Greek and Turkish Cypriots together will be ready to utilize the vast opportunities that membership offers. The challenge facing Cyprus is to ensure that both communities have a role to play in the country’s future.
Economic and social reforms as a result of harmonization with EU legislation have and will further improve the living standards of all Cypriot citizens. Social policy is in line with the Social Charter and greater emphasis is given to environmental issues and the improvement of safety and quality standards. EU accession has opened up the world’s largest market to Cypriot goods and services and will enable the island to make a positive contribution to the formulation of EU policy. Moreover, the accession of Cyprus in the Economic and Monetary Union in 2004 upon accession and the adoption of the Euro in January 2008 will further enhance the economic prospects of the island. (See section “Adoption of the Euro”)
With accession Cyprus has become the southeastern frontier of the newly-enlarged Europe. Cyprus’ geo-strategic position at the gateway to three continents and its close proximity to the important oil routes of the area can provide EU countries with access to the large Arab markets, and place them at an advantage with respect to their trade and commercial interests. At the same time it provides the Union with a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean from which to exercise greater economic and political influence and play a leading role in facilitating peace in the region. Cyprus’ EU membership will in itself bring greater stability and security to the region. Additionally, the acquisition of the island’s mercantile fleet, which traditionally ranks in the top ten in the world in terms of gross tonnage, has made the EU the world’s largest shipping power. Moreover, because of the island’s geographical location, serious problems facing Europe such as illegal immigration, drug trafficking and money laundering can be more effectively monitored and combated. Finally, as a financial and business hub, the island will also afford EU member-states attractive investment opportunities.
Adoption of the Euro
Cyprus became member of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) upon accession to the European Union on 1 May 2004. As of 1 January 2008, Cyprus adopted the Euro, giving up its national currency (the Cyprus Pound). At the same time, it entered the Euro zone and benefited from a single monetary policy.
On 10 July 2007, the Council of the European Union approved Cyprus’ and Malta’s application to join the euro area on 1 January 2008. On 1 January 2008, the euro (EUR) became legal tender in Cyprus, replacing the Cyprus pound (CYP) at the irrevocably fixed exchange rate of €1 = CYP 0.585274.
Successful entry in the euro area implies not only compliance with Treaty requirements, but also carefully planned and extensive practical preparations involving the public and private sectors, as well as the public at large.
This information is provided by the representation of the European Commission in Cyprus (http://ec.europa.eu/cyprus/euro_and_cyprus/index_en.htm).