Michel Barnier, Member of the European Commission responsible for regional policy and institutional reform, is visiting Cyprus from 22 to 24 October. He will be meeting President Tassos Papadopoulos, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Iacovou, Minister of Finance Markos Kyprianou, the Speaker of the House of Representatives Demetris Christofias, as well as the Coordinator for Harmonisation Mr Hadjidemetriou. In his meetings, Michel Barnier will review with the Cypriot authorities the preparations of Cyprus for the implementation of structural funds after accession, discuss the future of cohesion policy and issues related to the Intergovernmental Conference, in which Mr Barnier participates as representative of the Commission. Furthermore, he will meet representatives of civil society and the business community, including young people, to debate the future of the EU and of cohesion policy. Mr. Barnier's visit follows the first round of negotiations, between the Commission and the Cypriot authorities, of the structural funds programmes, which took place in Cyprus in the middle of September. The aim is to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2003.
During his visit, Michel Barnier will say “Cyprus has done good work to prepare itself for the future implementation of structural funds. Nevertheless, these efforts have to be maintained to ensure that the programmes can be fully implemented as of 1st of January 2004. Two issues need to be addressed urgently: the reinforcement of the administrative structures responsible for the management of the Structural Funds and the correct implementation of public procurement legislation. It is very important that the implementation of the European programmes in Cyprus is a success. This is not only because of the evident needs, which are the most important consideration, but because successful implementation would demonstrate the added value of the European Union's actions”. He added: “EU cohesion policy will help Cyprus to reduce regional disparities between the north and the southern part of the island as well as to promote economic and social convergence of the north with the rest of the EU after a solution of the Cyprus problem“.
More than € 101 million for rural and urban development, modernisation and fostering education, training and development and new support for the fisheries sector
On the basis of the decisions of the Copenhagen European Council last December, € 52.8 million will be allocated to Cyprus under the EU Structural Funds. In addition to this, some € 48.2 million would be available under the Cohesion Fund. The EU structural funds would be programmed in Cyprus through three different Single Programming Documents (SPDs) i.e. “Objective 2”, “Objective 3” and “Fisheries“.
More than € 24.9 million of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) would be allocated under Objective 2 for the promotion of economic development of selected rural and urban areas in Cyprus. The population benefiting from “Objective 2” represents 31% of the overall population. “Objective 2” is devoted to supporting the economic and social conversion of areas facing structural difficulties.
Around € 19.5 million will be allocated under “Objective 3” to support the adaptation and modernisation of policies and systems of education, training and employment.
In addition, Cyprus will benefit from € 3.8 million under the Interreg Community Initiative and € 1.6 million under the Equal Community Initiative.
Cyprus will also have a separate Fisheries programme with an allocation of € 3 million based on the decision of the Copenhagen Council. The Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) funding will target the entire fisheries sector with measures on the fishing fleet, aquaculture, fish processing and marketing and fishing ports.
In the event of a political settlement, the northern part of Cyprus will benefit from € 206 million of financial support from the EU including € 87 million of a Special Programme to be used for the dismantling of the green line dividing the two communities. Furthermore, on the basis of current data, the whole island would become eligible to the Objective 1 support with the subsequent increase of the structural funds allocation.
The Structural Funds comprise four individual Funds: The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF), the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) -Guidance Section, and the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG). Cyprus will benefit from the ERDF, ESF and FIFG only, which will contribute to the financing of the “Objective 2” (supporting the economic and social conversion of areas facing structural difficulties), “Objective 3” (adapting and modernising policies and systems of education, training and employment) and Fisheries SDPs. In addition, the Cohesion Fund will support projects in the fields of environment and transport infrastructure.