Thirteen years of Cyprus’ EU membership

The EU proceeded thirteen years ago, on May 1st 2004, with its fifth and biggest enlargement ever, by welcoming ten more countries, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Today marks an important day in the history of the Republic of Cyprus. The dream and efforts of many years are concluded today with Cyprus full accession to the EU as an equal member state”, Tassos Papadopoulos, who was then President of the Republic of Cyprus, had said.

The sixth enlargement of the EU in 2007 included Romania and Bulgaria, while in 2013 Croatia became the 28th EU member state. But the great EU project suffered a blow in 2016 when UK citizens voted in favour of Brexit.

Cyprus and the EU

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The relations between Cyprus and the European Economic Community, becoming later the European Union, evolved gradually from an Association Agreement in 1972 to a Customs Union Protocol in 1987, despite the difficult circumstances due to the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

The Republic of Cyprus submitted an application for full membership on July 4th 1990.

Three years later, in 1993, the EU Commission gave a positive Opinion on Cyprus’ application.

The concluding section of the Commission’s Opinion on Cyprus’ application to join the European Community stated the following:

Cyprus’ geographical position, the deep-lying bonds which, for two thousand years, place the island at the very fount of European culture and civilisation, the strong European influence on the values shared by the people of Cyprus, which is obvious and the cultural, political, economic and social life of its citizens, the numerous and various contacts with the Community, all these elements lend Cyprus, beyond all doubt, its European identity and character and confirm its European trends.

The accession negotiations started in April 1998. Former Cyprus President George Vassiliou was appointed as Chief Negotiator for Cyprus Accession to the EU.

On March 12,1998, President of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides presented to the European Council Presidency a formal proposal inviting the Turkish Cypriots to appoint representatives as full members of the team negotiating the accession of Cyprus to the European Union.

Clerides invitation was not accepted by the Turkish Cypriots and, as a result, the Republic of Cyprus started and concluded accession negotiations without the participation of the Turkish Cypriots.

The European Council at Helsinki in December 1999 took a historic decision that the solution of the Cyprus problem would not be a prerequisite for Cyprus joining the European Union. It is therefore stated in the relevant declaration: The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. If, by the completion of the accession negotiations no such settlement is reached, the decision of the Council on the accession will be made without considering the solution of the problem as a prerequisite. The Council consider all the relevant parameters towards this direction.

The Copenhagen EU Council, in December 2002, stated in its conclusions that the accession negotiations with ten pre-accession countries were concluded successfully and decided that those countries would join the EU on May 1st, 2004.

The accession of Cyprus to the EU was ratified with the signing of the Accession Treaty at the Stoa of Attalos on April 16, 2003. President Tassos Papadopoulos signed the Accession Treaty on behalf of the Republic of Cyprus.

Source: Cyprus News Agency