Press Release - The Cyprus Presidency makes substantial steps in the field of migration and asylum
18.12.2012, 14:02 (CET)
The progress achieved during the Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the EU in the areas of immigration and asylum, the European Border Surveillance System, the fight against human trafficking and the European Year of Citizens 2013 are some of the issues presented by Cyprus' Minister of Interior Ms Eleni Mavrou at the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee (LIBE).

In her presentation at the LIBE Committee on Tuesday December 18, Minister of Interior Ms Eleni Mavrou, referred to the work done by the Cyprus Presidency and stated that the goal of achieving an effective and dignified Presidency was a big challenge for Cyprus, particularly given the global economic crisis and the pressures in the euro zone in addition to the ongoing critical situation in Syria.

Ms. Mavrou expressed her gratitude to the European Parliament, stating that "the European Parliament's contribution in all the initiatives made by the Presidency, was really valuable." In turn, members of the LIBE committee congratulated the Cyprus Presidency and they expressed their sincere thanks to the Presidency for its constructive contribution to key issues, and stressed that despite all the difficulties, Cyprus, a small country, contributed decisively so as to bring about progress in very important issues, achieving progress in many areas and common approaches.

Significant progress towards establishing a Common European Asylum System

The completion of the Common European Asylum System by the end of 2012, in accordance with the Stockholm Programme and the decisions of the European Council was a priority for the Cyprus Presidency.

"We worked hard towards that goal, focusing primarily on ensuring the quality of legislation and the rights of those in need of international protection, while addressing the matter of abuses," said Minister Mavrou.

In her presentation, Ms. Mavrou summarised the main steps towards this goal, such as the political agreement achieved on the Directive on Reception Conditions and the Dublin Regulation, stressing also that there has been significant progress on the Procedures Directive. In reference to Eurodac, with the European Parliament's position, Ms Mavrou expressed the opinion that it is now possible to begin negotiations for a general agreement. 

"In order to achieve a Common European Asylum System, it is essential to seek more convergences not only on legal issues but also in practical terms. It is of utmost importance to have cooperation within a framework of sincere and genuine solidarity," she added.

Immigration in focus

Concerning the subject of immigration, Minister Mavrou elaborated on the Presidency’s initiatives for cooperation and dialogue with the most important countries of origin and transit. She  also stressed the widely accepted importance of integration as a driving force for development and social cohesion and mentioned the expert conference on the role of local and regional authorities in integration which was held in in Nicosia in November.

In reference to the matter of legal migration, substantial progress has been achieved regarding the legislations under discussion for seasonal workers and Intracorporate Transferees (ICTs).

"We are confident that, with the constructive contribution of all, these instruments will be finalized soon, bringing us one step closer to a comprehensive European migration policy," said Ms. Mavrou.

Borders and visas

Regarding the 'Eurosur' Regulation, Minister Mavrou stated that the mutual commitment for the goal to have an operational European Border Surveillance System by the specified deadline October 1, 2013 has been confirmed. "With the Council and the Parliament, we have also managed through a constructive dialogue to reach an agreement on the proposed Schengen Code Regulation." she added.

Combating human trafficking

Particular attention was given by the Cyprus Presidency  to the fight against human trafficking, which remains a major challenge for the Member States and the EU. The Council adopted conclusions in October on the new EU Strategy for the elimination of Trafficking in Persons. Moreover, a Conference was held in Brussels in October to further the cooperation and coordination between Member States and European Institutions and to promote an integrated approach against trafficking in persons.

European Year of Citizens 2013                      

With the aim of an EU closer to its citizens, in which citizens should be more aware of the advantages of a European citizenship, Ms Mavrou reported on the successful completion of the consultation on the European Year of Citizens 2013, stating that "with this development we are confident that it will have a significant and lasting impact on the effort to bring the EU closer to its citizens. "

Financial Tools Home Affairs

Ms Mavrou also referred to the regulations relating to the Home Affairs Financial Tools under the Multiannual Financial Framework.

"This was one of the most difficult and complex issues during our Presidency, particularly due to the difficult economic situation in Europe. Nevertheless, we managed to secure a partial general approach on the Horizontal Regulation and for the Regulation for the Internal Security Border and Visa Fund," she said.

Concluding her presentation, the Minister said:

"During our Presidency, we tried with sincerity and commitment to act as an honest broker. Our efforts have been focused on the goal of creating a better Europe in the spirit of the fundamental principles of the Union, a Union that will mean more for its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion towards a Europe closer to its neighbours."

Presidency Spokesperson in Brussels
Nikos Christodoulides

Coreper II

Email: nchristodoulides@mfa.gov.cy
Telefon: +32 27395152
Mobile: +32 473400441
Communications Officer

Ministry of Interior
EU Affairs Unit
Email: ckapardis@moi.gov.cy
Telefon: +357 22867721