Feature - The Multiannual Financial Framework takes centre stage
22.06.2012, 08:06 (CET)
As Cyprus prepares to assume its first Presidency of the Council of the European Union, there is certainly no shortage of challenging items on the agenda over the next six months. The issue of the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is the number one priority for Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for European Affairs, Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis.

The hallmark of success

When it comes to the question of what would make the Cyprus Presidency a successful one, the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) for the period 2014-2020 tops the list.

“The MFF is the most important task we have in front of us and the biggest issue that the Cyprus Presidency, in its role as honest broker, will have to face in these six months. It is not just a budget but the tool for structuring the Union’s future. Through it we will endeavour to promote and accelerate economic growth, create jobs and increase competitiveness in a spirit of fairness and solidarity, contributing to social cohesion,” said Mr. Andreas Mavroyiannis, Cyprus’ Deputy Minister for European Affairs.

Negotiations for the MFF take place in the General Affairs Council (GAC) chaired by Mr. Mavroyiannis, who has been tasked with overall political oversight as regards the preparations of the Cyprus Presidency.

The MFF translates into financial terms the Union’s political priorities, through the ceilings for the main areas of expenditure.  In this way, it sets the foundations for the annual budgetary procedure, while ensuring continuity towards achieving the priorities set for the benefit of Europe.

Given that it takes 12-18 months to agree on the legal bases for all the multi-annual programmes and projects financed under the MFF, the political agreement would ideally come during the Cyprus Presidency, at the end of 2012.

“Our ambition is of course to reach a political agreement on this during our Presidency and we will do our utmost to do so, however a lot of parameters are involved in these negotiations and we must ensure the job is done right. We will do our best to advance it as far as possible,” Mr. Mavroyiannis said.

A Better – More Relevant - Europe

The Cyprus Presidency approach to the MFF negotiations is emblematic of its greater ambition to work towards a ‘Better Europe’.

In what Mr. Mavroyiannis describes as challenging times for Europe, it is essential that the European Union is regarded as “being part of the solution and not the problem”. Traditionally, the dialogue and debate within academic and political circles was dominated by the two opposing views of ‘more’ or ‘less’ Europe, with the question of European integration at the core.

Steering clear of such unproductive debates, the Cyprus Presidency wants to promote a Union more relevant to its citizens and in the world.

“A Better Europe means a more effective Europe, contributing to sustainable growth and job creation through efficient policies and a Europe working on the basis of the principle of solidarity. This means that it will enhance the quality of life and social cohesion, providing hope to the European citizen today under the current difficult economic circumstances,” the Deputy Minister said.

Part of the Presidency vision of a ‘Better Europe’ is the strengthening of economic governance, the implementation of the Europe 2020 Strategy and the deepening of the 20-year-old internal market, which will receive particular emphasis during the Cyprus Presidency, in order to achieve more growth. Focus will also be placed on the completion, by the end of 2012, of the Common European Asylum System and the “re- engineering” of the Integrated Maritime Policy.

Adding Cypriot values

Having gained considerable experience as an ambassador in France and the Republic of Ireland, member states with a long involvement and significant input in the EU project, Mr. Mavroyiannis is of the view that Cyprus can use its own characteristics as guiding principles in its first ever Presidency of the Council of the EU.

“Cyprus can contribute to the European Union – in particular in terms of values. We believe we can help to bring back some fundamental values – the value of solidarity for example, which is the rationale that inspired the whole European unification process,” he said.

“This was about creating the organic conditions of peace through practical solidarities – the Schuman declaration – we want as far as possible to go back to this, because we live this in our own country,” Mr. Mavroyiannis added.

“We believe that we can make a contribution to that idea and to remind people how eminently political the project is.”

Special Emphasis on Youth

With the idea of solidarity in mind, the Cyprus Presidency also wishes place a special accent on young people, whose integration is essential to the future of the European Union.

 “Young people need to feel they are embraced and accepted in the societies that they live in and consider the European space as their space and feel at home everywhere they are. This is the idea of ‘filoxenia’ (hospitality) and a central message for our Presidency, you treat the other as if he or she is part of the family,” Mr. Mavroyiannis said.

Brussels-based Presidency

When it comes to feeling at home, the Cyprus Presidency has made Brussels its base for the next six months and according to Mr. Mavroyiannis, this arrangement will ensure the smooth-running of the Presidency programme.

“Our main firepower is in Brussels – we have approximately 200 people at the Permanent Representation. Relying on the necessary adjustments that will arise from the political monitoring in Cyprus, they are the best placed to assess the situation on the ground and respond to rapidly-changing circumstances in order to bring the agenda forward and achieve results as honest brokers,” he concluded.

Communications Officer
Poly Papavassiliou

Office of the Deputy Minister for European Affairs

Telephone: +357 22400144