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Cyprus

‘European champions’ of warnings from EU

Disy's Zacharias Zachariou

The House institutions committee complained on Tuesday that MPs are asked to hastily vote on numerous urgent bills that aim to harmonise national laws with those of the EU.

The head of the committee, Disy’s Zacharias Zachariou, said not a single one of the 41 bills that had to be passed into law by the end of August was passed, which led to the arrival of many warnings from the EU.

“We are tired as parliament and MPs to hear that there is no serious study of legislation voted by the House,” Zachariou said.

He added that the responsibility always falls on the parliament and MPs who feel like “scapegoats”.

The executive authority, he said, “ever since our accession to the EU always comes at the last moment, while we are as a state already facing punishment from the EU for not voting and harmonising (our laws) with the European acquis”.

By the end of last year Cyprus had received 47 warning letters from the EU, he said, while this year it has received 27. Similar countries to Cyprus in size, like Malta and Luxembourg, Zachariou said, have 22 and 24 warning letters respectively.

“We have succeeded in becoming champions. Where Apoel, Omonoia, AEK, and Anorthosis failed, the Cypriot government succeeded. (We are) European champions, but in a negative tone,” he said.

Zachariou said that the issue will be on the cabinet’s agenda in Tuesday’s meeting. A coordination mechanism should be put in place, he said, to monitor the progress of legislation until it reaches the House. He also said that MPs should be given at least two months’ time to vote.

He added that he will take the initiative for an informal discussion with the presidency and the attorney general’s office to discuss how to resolve the problem. At the moment, he said, the state legal services and the ministries blame each other for the delays.

Sending bills to parliament at the last minute is not a new phenomenon, he said, as it has been observed for many years.
“We have made it clear that this cannot and should not continue,” Akel MP Aristos Damianou said. “We recognise the enormous amount of work which lies on the shoulders of the legal services and therefore the state must make sure that some of this workload is alleviated”. He said that the committee has given the government and legal services deadlines to show improvement.

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