Monday

24th Jul 2017

EU assistance to north Cyprus tangled in conflict

  • Cyprus sunset: EU-funded projects in the north are falling foul of political problems (Photo: Orestis Kyriakides)

The Luxembourg-based European Court of Auditors on Wednesday (23 May) said EU assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community in northern Cyprus is complicated by political and legal difficulties.

The auditors looked at 34 EU-funded contracts worth €97.5 million from 2006 to 2011.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

"The construction of a seawater desalination plant, which is the programme's largest project, ended in failure," said the auditors. "More generally, the sustainability of the projects is often in doubt."

The seawater desalination came with a €27.5 million price tag but the project fell apart when Greek Cypriot workers were denied access to the site by Turkish armed forces in 2010.

But the European Commission may be partly to blame, say the auditors. "By contracting the works at the latest possible moment, the commission also missed an opportunity to offer the contract to another tenderer," the Court said. The contract was terminated in December 2011.

Cyprus, which is next in line to assume the six-month EU presidency is the only member state to host military bases from another EU member. The UK has two bases on the island. The UN also has about 1,000 soldiers still in place.

The de-facto buffer zone separating the Turkish north and the Greek south has also yet to be entirely demined. Meanwhile, only Turkey recognises the legitimacy of the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

An April 2004 referendum to join the two halves was overwhelmingly rejected by Greek Cypriots, while some 65 percent of Turkish Cypriots approved it. A month later, Cyprus joined the EU as a divided member state.

The entire island is legally part of the EU but the application of EU laws and standards is mostly suspended in the northern territory.

Consequently, the European Commission was unable to set up a delegation in the Turkish-controlled half. Instead, it had to establish a headquarters-based task force in the south with a local programme support office in the northern part of Cyprus.

Unlike normal delegations, the support office had no head and had to defer all its decisions back to commission headquarters.

"The political context was clearly complicated," said David Bostock, a member of the Court of Auditors who presented the report.

Gas discovered off Cypriot coast

Meanwhile, Cyprus says some 100 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas lies off its coastline.

On Monday, Turkey threatened sanctions against 29 companies bidding to explore for oil and gas deposits in the area, with Ankara saying a solution to the island's division must be addressed prior to gas exploration.

Cyprus says the undersea reservoirs lies within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) enabling it to explore and exploit resources up to 200 nautical miles from its coastal baseline.

The island has already ratified delimitation of EEZ agreements with both Egypt, Lebanon and Israel and is currently negotiating agreements for the common exploitation of the hydrocarbons.

But Turkey contests existing maritime boundary demarcation agreements with Cyprus.

Cyprus, for its part, has promised to make integrated maritime policy a focus point of its EU presidency starting July. The policy covers areas from customs rules to pollution and coastal tourism.

Relations with Israel have also been strengthening since 2009, most recently in the area of hydrocarbons.

"We have to co-operate in order to maximise our profits," Cypriot minister of foreign affairs Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis told reporters in Brussels last week.

Cyprus expects to fully exploit the offshore natural gas within 10 years.

Cyprus gets set to referee EU budget talks

The incoming Cypriot presidency is getting ready to tackle the biggest and ugliest dossier in the EU - the money - amid problems in its own backyard.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

Investigation

Inside the Code of Conduct, the EU's most secretive group

The informal group of national officials that is in charge of checking EU countries' tax laws is now working on the first EU blacklist of tax havens, amid critiques over its lack of transparency and accountability.

Ombudsman asks for more details on Barroso case

Emily O'Reilly has asked the EU Commission to say what former commissioners should be allowed to do after they leave office and explain why it took no decision over its former president's controversial new job.

News in Brief

  1. Polish parliament adopts controversial justice reform
  2. GMO opt-out plan unlikely to go anywhere in 2017
  3. Slovak PM threatens to boycott inferior food
  4. France takes Google's 'right to be forgotten' to EU court
  5. Turkey accuses German companies of supporting terror
  6. Israel's Netanyahu caught calling EU 'crazy'
  7. UK does not collect enough data to expel EU nationals
  8. Polish president threatens to veto justice reform

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  2. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  3. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  4. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  5. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  6. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  7. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  9. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  10. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  12. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School

Latest News

  1. Dutch coalition talks lengthiest in 40 years
  2. Polish parliament steps up showdown with EU
  3. EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions
  4. Law expert: direct EU powers have become too complicated
  5. Winter is here for Spitzenkandidat, but he'll survive
  6. Mafia money pollutes the EU economy
  7. Central Europe should be wary of Brexit stopping
  8. Poland's 'July coup' and what it means for the judiciary