On 1 July 2012, Cyprus has taken over the Presidency of the European Union. For the first time since its EU accession in 2004, the island state is assuming the role of organiser and motor of ministerial meetings. As a side note: for the first time in the history of the European Union the Presidency is also in the hands of a Communist government. In the midst of economic turbulences, the Cypriot Presidency presents an ambitious programme for the next six months.
After Denmark, Cyprus has now taken over the rotating EU Presidency until 31 December 2012. Andreas Mavrogiannis, who, acting as the country’s Minister for European Affairs is chiefly involved in the organization of the Cypriot Presidency, outlined Cyprus’ programme ‘towards a better Europe’ at a press conference in Brussels earlier this week.

The top priority on the agenda of the Cypriot Presidency is the negotiation of the Multiannual Financial Framework 2014-20, which in turn sets the respective maximum amounts for the annual EU budgets. Cyprus promises to include growth and - competitiveness enhancing measures also with regard to budgetary policy. Budget allocation shall be conducted in a fair and efficient manner, while the discussion on the EU’s own resources shall be pushed forward in the coming months. Mavrogiannis promises to conclude the relevant negotiations before the end of the year.

Following the latest Council decisions, the Cypriot Presidency also commits itself to strengthening economic governance and budgetary surveillance by implementing the “Six Pack”. Following the decision taken by the European Council, the consolidation of public finances in conjunction with growth-enhancing programmes shall help Europe to find a way out of the crisis. Cyprus promises to develop its own approach in promoting Transeuropean transport, telecommunication and energy networks as well as with regard to the sustainable management of resources (in particular water).

Based on a ‘Europe, more relevant to its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion’, the Cypriot Presidency wants to make progress in the field of youth unemployment and the creation of a Common European Asylum System by the end of 2012. In addition, efforts for cross-generational solidarity as well as the promotion of educational and vocational training programmes were also emphasised in this context.

With regard to foreign policy, the focus of the Cypriot Presidency will shift to the Southern Mediterranean, where one wants to strengthen pluralism and engage in a dialogue with civil society.

In spite of its own economic difficulties (Cyprus was the fifth country to apply for financial aid from the European bailout fund EFSF in June) and a still conflictive relationship with its neighbour Turkey, the Cypriot Presidency promises to behave as an honest broker and to conduct business at Council level without pursuing its own agenda.

Further information:

Website of the Cypriot Presidency