Tuesday 29th May 2012
By H.E. Demetris Christofias, President of the Republic of Cyprus
Cyprus will soon be at the helm of the rotating presidency of the European Union for the first time since its accession in 2004. For us, this is a great honour and at the same time a great challenge; it is a unique opportunity for Cyprus to make a lasting contribution towards European integration, while, also, enhancing its image as a credible and responsible EU member and partner.
The Cyprus Presidency will work towards a better Europe, highlighting the fundamental principle of solidarity, by promoting social cohesion, effectiveness and growth in the Union.
Negotiations on the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the years 2014-2020 will feature high in our presidency agenda. In cooperation with the President of the European Council, we will work tirelessly towards achieving the consensus needed in the European Council.
In light of the ongoing economic and financial crisis, the Cyprus Presidency will focus on implementing the new enhanced framework of economic governance, as well as working to progress the financial services framework. Special emphasis will be given to initiatives provided for by the Single Market Act, with a view to strengthening the internal market and working towards increasing growth and employment opportunities, especially for the young.
One of the basic objectives of the Cyprus Presidency is the establishment of the Common European Asylum System by the end of 2012, in accordance with the timetable set by the European Council. We will also be promoting the new legal framework for the protection of personal data.
The Cyprus Presidency aims to place the citizen, solidarity and social cohesion at the heart of its agenda. We consider it imperative to bring Europe closer to its citizens and improve people’s living condition and quality of life.
Thus, the Cyprus Presidency will put emphasis on youth employment by working towards decreasing the rising unemployment rates of the young in the entire Union. In this respect, the Presidency will promote the “Europe 2020” targets, including all initiatives that will ease the effects of the severe austerity measures taken to tackle the consequences of the unprecedented economic and financial crisis.
Furthermore, the Cyprus Presidency will aim to reenergise the “Integrated Maritime Policy”, which is an important tool in maximising sustainable development, economic growth and social cohesion of Member States and in meeting the objectives of the “Europe 2020 Strategy”. Attention will also be given to the development of the Trans–European Networks of transport, telecommunications and energy, as well as promoting green growth, research and innovation.
In view of enhancing Europe’s role in the world, the enlargement process is indeed a priority. The Cyprus Presidency of the Council is firmly committed to taking this process forward on the basis of agreed principles and conclusions. It reinforces peace, democracy and stability in Europe and allows the EU to be better positioned to address global challenges.
In light of the political developments in our neighbouring Mediterranean countries, we aim to promote the Southern Dimension of the European Neighbourhood Policy, while ensuring progress on the Union’s development aid commitments.
Last but not least, it is my firm belief that in these uncertain times, in these economically and socially difficult times, it is essential that member states stick together and unite in our diversity, exhausting all possible means to take the EU forward. Together we can make Europe a better place in which to live and thrive. Together, all of us, united in solidarity, we must bring back hope to every single citizen. Together, we can make it a better Europe.