Finance minister Harris Georgiades said that, through an “effective participation” in Brexit negotiations, Cyprus wants to ensure that the UK can maintain a close relation with the European Union.
“What we shall be advocating is a new relation between the UK and the EU which will be as close as possible,” Georgiades said in an interview, almost six months after British voters voted in a referendum in favour of leaving the EU.
“Of course it takes two to tango and both the EU and the UK must be interested and seek such a close relationship,” the finance minister said. “But this is definitely what Cyprus will be advocating and working toward”.
While British premier Theresa May is expected to trigger article 50 of the European treaty before April, it remains unclear whether the British government will choose a ‘hard Brexit’, i.e. leaving the single market completely in order to control the immigration flow from the EU, or a ‘soft Brexit’ which will allow the free flow of goods, services, capital and humans, as the question of immigration was one of the top issues in the referendum campaign.
Georgiades said that the position of Cyprus was on the agenda when Michel Barnier, the EU official appointed in charge of Brexit negotiations was in Cyprus earlier this month.
In July, Moody’s Investors Service said that Cyprus’s economy was one of those most exposed to Brexit in the EU, mainly via Cyprus’s reliance on British tourism, with Britons making up 4 out of ten incoming visitors last year, the share of the portfolio investment on Cypriots in the UK, and Cyprus’s high government debt compared to economic output.