The Cypriot Presidency
On July 1st, 2012, Cyprus assumed power as rotating President of the Council of the European Union and will serve in this position until the end of December. Cyprus takes on the role as the next member in a leadership trio which included the previous Danish (January – June 2012) and Polish (July - December 2011) presidencies. Under the slogan, “Towards a Better Europe,” President Demetris Christofias will focus the presidency on resolving the Eurozone crisis, approving the new EU budget and promoting increased European solidarity.
Economic Growth and Stability
As the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis continues to devastate Greece and other countries, Cyprus will work to develop an immediate solution centered on both “fiscal consolidation and sustainable economic growth measures.” Considered its highest priority during the presidency, Cyprus will push for final approval and adoption of the EU Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-2020. Though the country now seeks an international bailout to recapitalize its failing banking sector, Cyprus will promote an efficient and stable European economy by increasing EU financial oversight, strengthening the Single Market and implementing the Europe 2020 growth strategy. The Cyprus residency will also strive to boost European economic competitiveness through continued investment in cutting-edge research and renewable energy technology.
Also at the top of its agenda: Cyprus hopes to foster a greater sense of European solidarity by encouraging closer cooperation among EU structures and increased European integration. In order to tackle the pressures of increased migration flows, Cyprus will lead the Council in completing the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) by the end of 2012, demonstrating a united EU approach in the Justice and Home Affairs area. In order to enhance social cohesion and “bring Europe closer to its citizens,” the Cyprus presidency will focus on combating youth unemployment and providing social safety nets for those most affected by the current crisis. As a Brussels-based presidency, Cyprus will work to renew faith in European integration and cultivate hope for its citizens.
Integrated Maritime Policy
As an island country, a unique goal of the Cyprus presidency will be to revitalize EU discussions on the creation of an integrated maritime policy. Aimed at establishing a strategic approach to ocean and maritime affairs, the Cyprus presidency views the policy as “an important tool in maximizing sustainable development, economic growth and social cohesion of Member States.” In October, the presidency will host a ministerial conference on the island to articulate the main points of the policy and future steps for action in what will be called the “Limassol Declaration.”
The Cyprus Problem
One of the greatest concerns Cyprus faces as it assumes the rotating presidency will be how to approach the enduring social conflict which divides the island and how to address relations with Turkey. With previous reunification talks unable to thaw the frozen dispute, Turkey has threatened to sever relations with the EU presidency for the duration of the Cypriot term. Though Cyprus has promised to act as an “honest broker” and prevent national interests from influencing their EU decisions, progress toward a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus conflict and Turkish EU membership remains uncertain.
Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union, “Cyprus Presidency Priorities,” http://www.cy2012.eu/en/menu/the-presidency-eu/cyprus-presidency/programme-and-priorities.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus “President of the Republic Meets with President of the European Council,” http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/mfa2006.nsf/All/C4B650E204E444BAC2257A0D001F55B6?OpenDocument.
EurActiv “Cyprus Readies EU Presidency Plan, and Bailout Bid,” http://www.euractiv.com/priorities/cyprus-readies-eu-presidency-pla-news-513170.
European Voice “The Cypriot Presidency of the EU,” http://www.europeanvoice.com/folder/thecypriotpresidencyoftheeu/213.aspx.
Famagusta Gazette “Korneliou: Cyprus EU Presidency, A Historic Challenge,” http://famagusta-gazette.com/korneliou-cyprus-eu-presidency-a-historic-challenge-p15890-69.htm.