|On 16 April 2003 President Tassos Papadopoulos signed the Treaty of Accession of Cyprus to the European Union. The signing of this historic Treaty, which took place during a special ceremony in Athens, represents the cornerstone of Cyprus' path towards accession to the European Union and forms a landmark in the modern history of Cyprus. It also constitutes the crowning achievement of the long effort by Cyprus to formally join the European family, to which it had always belonged geographically, historically, culturally, economically and politically. Cyprus ratified the Accession Treaty on July 14, 2003. On May 1, 2004, Cyprus became a full EU Member State, along with the other nine acceding countries – The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Milestones in Cyprus Path to the EU
· 19 December 1972: Signing of an Association Agreement between Cyprus and the European Economic Community which came into force on 1 June 1973.
· 4 July 1990: Cyprus applies for membership to the European Communities.
· 31 March 1998: Accession negotiations between Cyprus and the EU start.
· 13 December 2002: The European Council decides in Copenhagen to admit Cyprus as a new member state of the European Union.
· 16 April 2003: Cyprus signs the Treaty of Accession in Athens.
· 1 May 2004: Cyprus becomes a member of the EU
Following the country's accession to the EU, the government of the Republic of Cyprus undertook the obligation to join the Economic and Monetary Union and to adopt the euro as soon as the necessary requirements were fulfilled. From January 1st, 2008 Cyprus joined the euro zone and adopted the euro as its national currency.
Cyprus has a lot to benefit from EU membership. It also has a lot to offer as a member-state. The geographic position of the country, the healthy state of its economy, the devotion of the people to the ideals of the EU are all elements which enable Cyprus to contribute to the stability and welfare of the European family, regardless of its small size. Situated at the intersection of important transport and communications routes linking Europe to the Middle East and Asia, Cyprus aspires to become the region's economic and financial operations centre, a major communications and transport hub, and a meeting place for peoples and cultures. With its advanced technical infrastructure and skilled human resources it can become a bridge from where European enterprises launch their activities. Moreover, it can act as a shield, protecting Europe from the threat of terrorism, the inflow of narcotics, illegal immigration, money laundering and trafficking in human beings.
The process of EU enlargement demonstrates the common determination of the peoples of Europe to come together in a Union that has become the driving force for the consolidation of stability, security, peace, democracy and sustainable growth in Europe and beyond. As a full member of the Union, Cyprus is working actively with all other member-states in shaping the future development of Europe and in completing the ambitious project of European reunification and integration.
The EU has taken a firm position regarding the Cyprus problem, a position that respects the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of the country, in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the high-level agreements between the two communities. While the UN Secretary-General's mission of good offices has provided the framework for a negotiated settlement of the Cyprus problem, the EU is now expected to assume a central role in assuring that any proposed settlement conforms to its principles and legal norms.
On July 1 2012 Cyprus assumed its first six month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union. During its Presidency, Cyprus will work Towards a Better Europe, more relevant to its citizens and to the world; meaning a more effective Europe, contributing to growth and job creation. A European Union working on the basis of the underlying principle of solidarity, committing itself to a better future, promoting social cohesion and providing hope to its citizens; a European Union, with an enhanced role in the international scene. All efforts will be directed to bequeath a better Europe to the younger generations.
The priorities of the Cyprus Presidency are:
1. Europe, more efficient and sustainable
2. Europe, with a better performing and growth economy
3. Europe, more relevant to its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion
4. Europe in the world, closer to its neighbours
Τhe four priorities are further elaborated in the six month Programme of the Presidency, which can be found on the official website of the Cyprus EU Presidency, www.cy2012.eu
Depicts a ship, painted in the blue colour of the EU. While sailing it becomes a dove, a universal symbol of peace and the emblem of the Republic of Cyprus. Its three sails are coloured copper and green -inspired by the Cyprus flag and the sun-bathed, dotted with olive trees and rich in copper land of Cyprus- and light blue like the sea and the sky, which becomes a friendly and hospitable shelter for the harmonious co-existence of peoples.