EU Commission stands ready to assist Cyprus, EU Commission Vice President tells EP

The European Commission stands ready to assist Cyprus when it comes to its economic recovery and any efforts aimed at bringing an end to the division of the island, said Vice-President of the European Commission Jyrki Katainen on behalf of President Juncker at the Plenary Session of the European Parliament on the debate on the Future of Europe with President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.

Katainen said that the financial and economic crisis hit Cyprus harder than most, but noted that the labour market is recovering and the economy grew by over 4% in 2017 and continues at an impressive rate this year. The financial sector, he added, is more stable with a lower � although still too high � rate of non-performing loans.

He said that investment is returning, thanks in part to the Juncker Plan which has helped trigger 109 million euro of additional investment and added that he will visit Cyprus at the end of January to discuss further use of the Juncker Plan in order to help boost growth and job creation.

But if the situation has turned around, it is because of the strength and hard work of the Cypriot people said the Vice President of the EU Commission, praising at the same time the Government’s commitment to the programme of recovery.

We know there is still a long way to go. And the Commission will assist you every step of the way, including through tailored support offered by the Structural Reform Support Service. It has already provided EUR 520 million to support the economic integration of the island and improved links and contacts between its two communities. But it also continues to support Cyprus across the board, including to meet its climate and energy targets, he noted.

Katainen said that the European Commission will stand ready to assist any efforts aimed at bringing an end to the division of the island. The Commission will always answer your call to support any negotiations or discussions held under the auspices of the United Nations that work towards a fair, comprehensive and viable settlement he said, acknowledging that this would be beneficial for Cyprus, for Europe and for the wider security and stability in the region.

The EU Vice President stressed that the Commission has put forward a fair, modern and balanced budget, more focused on the issues that matter the most � just as Cyprus has so long been calling for.

For instance, there will be an almost three-fold increase in funding for migration and security to make sure that Europe can protect its citizens. This will be especially important for Cyprus as a country that has taken so much responsibility in this area he noted.

He added that funding for research and innovation will be increased by 50% and that the Commission has also proposed to double the means of Erasmus+ and a new Digital Europe Programme worth EUR 9 billion will support Europes digital transformation.

All of these will provide real opportunities for Cypriots and further boost the productivity of the Cypriot economy he said, noting that it is crucially important that there is an agreement on the new budget of the Union as swiftly as possible.

Source: Cyprus News Agency