The priorities of the Cypriot Presidency of the EU

6 June 2012

“The role of the EU’s rotating presidency changed with the Lisbon Treaty, but it still has a huge responsibility in steering, coordinating and finding compromises,” said Kornelios Korneliou, permanent representative of Cyprus to the EU.

“Don’t underestimate its role, along with that of the European Parliament,” the diplomat said.

Looking ahead to Cyprus’s EU Presidency, Korneliou said “I’m not saying we’ll influence the EU agenda, but there’s a role there to be respected. We’re very ambitious and enthusiastic”.

“Our programme is still being finalised. We had a long list of priorities – that has been shortened the closer we’ve been getting to the start of the presidency. We know the problems of the EU, so we know where the priorities must be,” Korneliou said.

“The EU is facing major political and socio-economic challenges,” said the diplomat, citing as examples the eurozone crisis, the sovereign debt crisis, concerns over the emergence of a multi-speed Europe, socio-economic problems and the rise of anti-EU sentiment among the general population.

“A reliable EU must deliver to citizens, exit the crisis and restore confidence. We must instil confidence and show that we can act. We can do this by going back to the values and founding principles of the EU, like solidarity,” Korneliou argued.

“The answer isn’t ‘more’ or ‘less’ Europe, but ‘better Europe’. A better Europe will be more relevant to its citizens and to the world,” he declared.

“Negotiations on the [EU’s next] Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) will be our baby […] it’ll be very challenging for Cyprus. We want the MFF to bring more economic and social cohesion. Of course we also want more growth, so we can use it to enhance growth and competitiveness too,” he said.

“As an island and maritime nation, Cyprus will re-launch the Integrated Maritime Policy of 2007” at an event with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, the diplomat said.

Korneliou said the Cyprus Presidency would continue work on a new and enhanced economic governance to face up to the crisis and restore the confidence of the markets.

“Cyprus is a member of the euro zone, but we want to bring the EU 17 and the EU 10 closer. All member states are needed and all are vital for the EU,” he said.

Describing the Single Market as “very important for the EU” because it had “delivered growth and jobs,” he stressed the importance of continuing to maintain a business-friendly environment in the EU today.

Meanwhile, the ‘Europe 2020’ strategy can also boost jobs, growth and competitiveness, he said.

“The EU must become more relevant to citizens and contribute to creating a future for our young people,” Korneliou declared.

He stressed the importance of moving forward “difficult” discussions regarding a Common European Asylum System, and also pledged to make progress in international trade relations.

He said other priorities of Cyprus’s EU Presidency would include Europe’s role in the Mediterranean and advancing enlargement negotiations with the Balkan countries and Turkey.

“We’re committed Europeans and we believe we can contribute to European integration. We know there’s negativity about the EU. Let’s focus on delivering short-term benefits and solving internal problems, while bearing in mind the EU’s long-term prospects,” Korneliou said.

“I’m stood here today because Cyprus believed in the project,” he concluded.