Cyprus encourages EU agreement on resources
by Nicos Bellos
Brussels, May 23 (CNA) - Cyprus encourages the efforts of the Luxembourg presidency of the EU to reach an agreement in June regarding the resources of the Union for the period 2007-2013 but is finding it difficult to relate to the content of the existing negotiating framework, given that its contribution to the budget is increasing.
This was the main remark Cypriot Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou made during last night's ministers' conclave, which took place in Brussels.
In his intervention at the meeting, Iacovou noted that Cyprus, as a member state with the 13th lowest per capita GDP of the Union, will receive restricted resources and will make a relatively high contribution, making it the only new member state that starts off as a contributor to the community's budget.
Iacovou pointed out that Cyprus' net contribution would reach 0.6% of the GDP, which would make its deficit disproportionately high in relation with the country's financial affluence, and proposed the restriction of the Union's budget to 1% of the EU's GDP.
Regarding the cohesion policy, he said the aid provided for Cyprus did not meet the country's needs, noting that the island had almost fully taken on the cost of accession with little economic assistance during the pre-accession period and few resources allocated today through structural funds.
Iacovou said Cyprus was left out of the mass community financing, despite the fact that Cyprus' GDP was below the 75% criterion of the Union's average GDP, due the fact that the decision was based on preliminary data. He said the same data was used for leaving Cyprus out of the phasing out stage.
Regarding the distribution of resources from the cohesion fund, Cyprus receives a small percentage due to its small size, despite its huge investment needs as a small island state in sectors such as the environment, transport and energy.
Iacovou pointed out that Cyprus, with its geographical and natural characteristics, is facing special problems and permanent disadvantages, leading to higher production and transport costs, which adversely affect its smooth integration in the common market.
He said that it was a high priority for Cyprus to be considered a special case that should be handled on an equal basis with distant regions, in the context of political cohesion.