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European Union: Cyprus Takes over EU Presidency on July 1, 2012

(July 6, 2012) On July 1, 2012, Cyprus, itself on the brink of a bailout and still divided, with Turkish forces occupying 37% of its northern territory, assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time since it joined the EU on May 1, 2004. Malta and Bulgaria had joined at the same time. (Cyprus Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Cyprus Presidency website (last visited July 3, 2012).)

Cyprus's main theme for its Presidency is to work “Towards a Better Europe,” one in which public institutions are closer to citizens of the EU and to its immediate neighbors. The Presidency's main task is to establish the budget for the period 2014-2020, the so-called Multiannual Financial Framework. Thus, Cyprus will be engaged in decisions on budget allocations in order to promote effective policies, aid growth, and boost competition. Some issues that rank high on Cyprus's agenda are energy security; the Trans-European Networks on Transport, Telecommunications, and Energy; youth employment; children's well-being; food security; and the protection of personal data. (Here Comes Cyprus! First Shot at EU Presidency for the Mediterranean Member State, COMMUNITY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT INFORMATION SERVICE NEWS (CORDIS) (July 2, 2012).)

The priorities of the Cyprus Presidency, as stated on its website, are:

  • Europe, more efficient and sustainable;
  • Europe, with a better performing and growth economy;
  • Europe, more relevant to its citizens, with solidarity and social cohesion;
  • Europe in the world, closer to its neighbors. (Programme and Priorities, Cyprus Presidency website.)

The six-month rotating Presidency was established in 1957, by the Treaty of Rome, which was the founding treaty of the European Communities. Since 2007, three EU Members have been grouped together, mixing new with older Member States and large with smaller Member States, which take turns in assuming the Presidency. Currently, Cyprus has taken the baton from Denmark, which had followed Poland's Presidency. The next trio of EU Members to assume the Presidency includes Ireland, Lithuania, and Greece. The policy of bringing three Member States together was motivated by the rationale that each one will carry over and reinforce the others' mandate, thus achieving much more than a single Member State might within the allotted term of six months. (CORDIS, supra.)