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European Commission's Opinion (Avis) on Cyprus' application for membership of the EU (1993)

* Extracts

doc/93/5 - June 30, 1993


On 3 July 1990, the government of the Republic of Cyprus submitted to the Council of the European Communities an application for membership of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC), the European Economic Community (EEC) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC).

At its meeting on 17 September 1990, the Council noted the application and decided to set in motion the procedures laid down in Article 98 of the ECSC Treaty, Article 237 of the EEC Treaty and Article 205 of the Euratom Treaty, asking the Commission to draw up an opinion, as required by these provisions.

Applications have recently also been received from several EFTA countries and from Malta, and an application was previously submitted by Turkey. The Commission delivered its opinion on Turkey's application in December 1989, followed by opinions on the applications of Austria (August 1991), Sweden (July 1992), Finland (November 1992) and Norway (March 1993). It is transmitting its opinion on the application submitted by Malta simultaneously with this document.

The European Council concluded its discussion of the question of enlargement at its Lisbon meeting on 26 and 27 June 1992 with the following observations relating to the EFTA countries:

"The European Council considers that the EEA Agreement has paved the way for opening enlargement negotiations with a view to an early conclusion with EFTA countries seeking membership of the European Union ... The official negotiations will be opened immediately after the Treaty on European Union is ratified and agreement has been achieved on the Delors II package."

In the light of the decisions taken by the European Council at its Edinburgh meeting on 11 and 12 December 1992, enlargement negotiations got under way in February 1993 with Austria, Finland and Sweden, and in April 1993 with Norway.

As regards applications from other countries, the Lisbon conclusions continue as follows:

"... The European Council considers that if the challenges of a European Union composed of a larger number of Member States are to be met successfully, parallel progress is needed as regards the internal development of the Union and in preparation for membership of other countries.
In this context the European Council discussed the applications which have been submitted by Turkey, Cyprus and Malta. The European Council agrees that each of these applications must be considered on its merits.

Relations with Cyprus and Malta will be developed and strengthened by building on the Association Agreements and their application for membership and by developing the political dialogue."

The European Council which met in Copenhagen on 21-22 June 1993 "considered that its guidelines with regard to enlargement with the EFTA countries shall be without prejudice to the situation of other countries which have applied to join the Union. The Union will consider each of these membership applications on its own merits.

The European Council welcomed the Commission's intention to present shortly its opinion on Malta and on Cyprus. These opinions will be examined rapidly by the Council taking into consideration the particular situation of each of the two countries".


Cyprus's geographical position, the deep-lying bonds which, for two thousand years, have located the island at the very fount of European culture and civilization, the intensity of the European influence apparent in the values shared by the people of Cyprus and in the conduct of the cultural, political, economic and social life of its citizens, the wealth of its contacts of every kind with the Community, all these confer on Cyprus, beyond all doubt, its European identity and character and confirm its vocation to belong to the Community.

A political settlement of the Cyprus question would serve only to reinforce this vocation and strengthen the ties which link Cyprus to Europe. At the same time, a settlement would open the way to the full restoration of human rights and fundamental freedoms throughout the island and encourage the development of pluralist democracy.

The Commission is convinced that the result of Cyprus's accession to the Community would be increased security and prosperity and that it would help bring the two communities on the island closer together. If there were to be a political settlement, the prospect of the progressive re-establishment of fundamental liberties would help overcome the inevitable practical difficulties which would arise during the transition period in regard to the adoption of the relevant Community legislation. In regard to economic aspects, this opinion has shown that, in view of the progress towards a customs union achieved thus far, the adoption of the acquis communautaire by Cyprus will pose no insurmountable problems. The Commission is not underestimating the problems that the economic transition poses. However, the economy of the southern part of the island has demonstrated an ability to adapt and seems ready to face the challenge of integration provided that the work already started on reforms and on opening up to the outside world is maintained, notably in the context of the customs union. This opinion also has also shown that there will be a greater chance of narrowing the development gap between north and south in event of Cyprus's integration with the Community.

The government of the Republic of Cyprus shares this conviction. Even though they object to the conditions under which the application for membership was made, the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community are fully conscious of the economic and social benefits that integration with Europe would bring their community.

This opinion has also shown that Cyprus's integration with the Community implies a peaceful, balanced and lasting settlement of the Cyprus question - a settlement which will make it possible for the two communities to be reconciled, for confidence to be re-established and for their respective leaders to work together. While safeguarding the essential balance between the two communities and the right of each to preserve its fundamental interests, the institutional provisions contained in such a settlement should create the appropriate conditions for Cyprus to participate normally in the decision-making process of the European Community and in the correct application of Community law throughout the island.

In view of all the above and in the expectation of significant progress in the talks currently being pursued under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Commission feels that a positive signal should be sent to the authorities and the people of Cyprus confirming that the Community considers Cyprus as eligible for membership and that as soon as the prospect of a settlement is surer, the Community is ready to start the process with Cyprus that should eventually lead to its accession.

The United Nations Secretary-General is aware that he can count on the Community's support in his continued endeavours to produce a political settlement of the Cyprus question.

Even before such a settlement is forthcoming, the Commission undertakes to use all the instruments available under the Association Agreement to contribute, in close cooperation with the Cypriot government, to the economic, social and political transition of Cyprus towards integration with the Community.

If the Council agrees, and in the hope of facilitating the conduct of the future accession negotiations, the Commission is willing to begin immediately talks with the government of Cyprus. These talks would serve to familiarize the Cypriot authorities with all the elements that constitute the acquis communautaire, partly in order to allow them to prepare their negotiating position under the best possible conditions and partly to permit an assessment of the need for any technical cooperation and assistance that their country might require to adopt and implement Community legislation and the policies and instruments that will be needed for its integration and to prepare the way, in due course, for the north of the island to catch up economically.

The Commission also undertakes to examine the issue of Cyprus's future institutions and their compatibility with the requirements of active participation in the day-to-day running of the Community in the event of accession.

The Community must ensure, moreover, that the general assessment to be carried out in the context of the 1996 intergovernmental conference results in greater efficiency in the operation of the institutions of an enlarged Community - and one that could well be enlarged further - while at the same time providing Cyprus, and any other new Member state of a similar size, with a guarantee that it will receive appropriate treatment in the decision-making process and in the discharging of its responsibilities.

Lastly, the Commission must envisage the possibility of the failure of the intercommunal talks to produce a political settlement of the Cyprus question in the foreseeable future, in spite of the endeavours of the United Nations Secretary-General. Should this eventuality arise, the Commission feels that the situation should be reassessed in view of the positions adopted by each party in the talks and that the question of Cyprus's accession to the Community should be reconsidered in January 1995.