Indicative of the age-old bonds between Cyprus and Europe is the reference contained in the 1993 Opinion of the European Commission on the application of Cyprus for membership to the EU, which notes that “…Cyprus’ 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.
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus concluded an Association Agreement with the EEC on 19 December 1972, which entered into force on 1 June 1973. The full implementation of this two-stage Agreement was to lead to a Customs Union within a period of 10 years. The purpose of the Agreement, which contained arrangements on trade, financial and technical cooperation that were to be applied for the benefit of the entire population of the island, was to consolidate and expand trade and the economic relations between Cyprus and the European Community.
The main provisions of the first stage of the Agreement consisted of the phased reduction of tariffs on industrial goods and agricultural products. This phase was due to expire in June 1977 but was extended until the end of 1987 when an Additional Protocol was signed for the implementation of the second stage.
This Protocol, which was to pave the way towards the progressive realization of the goal of a Customs Union, came into force on 1 January 1988 and, as a first stage, provided for the reduction by Cyprus of customs duties and quantitative restrictions on industrial products (except for petroleum products and 15 categories of sensitive products) and on 43 agricultural products covered by the Agreement, the adoption by Cyprus of the Union’s Common Customs Tariff and the harmonization of accompanying policies on competition, State aid and the approximation of laws.
The second stage of the Protocol provided for the elimination of all remaining restrictions to trade for products included in the Customs Union, the free and unrestricted movement of industrial and agricultural products and the adoption of the accompanying policies required for completion of the customs union. However, in view of the commencement of accession negotiations in March 1998, it was considered unnecessary to start additional negotiations for the implementation of this second phase.