EU Commission report on Cyprus released
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, Nov 5 (CNA) -- Cyprus has reached a high level of alignment with the acquis communautaire in most policy areas, the European Commission has said in its progress report on the country's harmonisation effort, something that ranks the Republic in second place among acceding countries as far as its attempt to align itself with EU norms and regulations are concerned.
The Commission said Cyprus needs to make enhanced efforts in order to complete its preparations for accession in specific sectors and stressed that Cyprus must take immediate and decisive action in the field of agriculture and maritime safety.
The lengthy report, entitled ''Comprehensive monitoring report on Cyprus' preparations for membership'', said the Commission ''strongly believes'' that a political settlement can be found before May 1 next year, when Cyprus joins the Union, but if not the implementation of the acquis communautaire will be suspended in the northern Turkish occupied areas of the Republic.
''The Cyprus economy slowed down in 2002, although remaining resilient, while inflation the current account and the government deficit deteriorated. Structural reform has continued slowly but some long-term issues remain,'' the report said.
Cyprus, the report said, is expected to be in a position to implement the acquis as required in the overwhelming majority of chapters negotiated during membership talks.
The areas that fall under this category relate, among other issues, to company law, competition policy, integrated administration and control system, fisheries, transport policy, taxation, economic and monetary union, statistics, consumer and health protection, most aspects of justice and home affairs, customs union, common foreign and security policy and financial and budgetary provisions.
The second category includes areas in which Cyprus partially meets the commitments and requirements and needs to make increased efforts to complete its preparations for accession.
This includes, among other chapters, legislation relating to the free movement of goods and services, company law, fisheries, transport policy, energy, social policy and employment, telecommunications and information technologies and financial control.
The third category in which Cyprus must take immediate and decisive action to address three issues of serious concern in two chapters of the acquis if it is to be ready by the date of accession.
This concerns the field of agriculture, in particular Cyprus' preparations to put in place its Paying Agency, and to prepare for the application of external trade mechanisms. It also concerns the filed of transport policy, as regards maritime safety.
On the political question, the Commission said it ''strongly believes that a solution to the Cyprus problem can still be found before 1 May 2004 in order to allow the accession of a united Cyprus.''
''However, in case a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem is not reached before the date of accession, Protocol No 10 annexed to the Accession Treaty envisages the suspension of the acquis in the areas of the country which are not under the effective control of the Government of Cyprus,'' it adds.
The Commission notes that such a settlement has not been yet reached, the report monitors the application of the acquis in the government controlled part of Cyprus.
''Any specific measures required to deal with the terms under which EU law will apply to the line between the north and the government controlled areas would be defined before accession'', the report said.