Cyprus has voted against a European Commission proposal to negotiate a deal with Turkey on the exchange of personal data by law enforcement agencies, according to Justice Minister Ionas Nicolaou.
According to a written statement from Luxembourg where he attended the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting, the minister has again voiced his strong opposition and serious reservations about this highly sensitive and important issue and has submitted “a declaration by the Republic of Cyprus for inclusion in the minutes of the Council, registering our negative vote.”
The proposal was finally adopted by the Council.
It concerns the opening of negotiations for the conclusion of an agreement between the European Union and Turkey on the exchange of personal data between the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) and the Turkish authorities responsible for the fight against serious crime and terrorism. This proposal was tabled by the European Commission.
It is also noted that this issue was adopted by a qualified majority also by COREPER (Council of Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States) on May 29 where it was not possible to form a blocking minority.
“Cyprus has repeatedly expressed its strong opposition to the adoption of this proposal from the date of its submission and during the discussions held on all levels, including the last meeting of the Permanent Representatives Committee” Nicolaou said.
The minister pointed out that “since the start of discussions on the European Commission`s proposal, the Republic of Cyprus has highlighted Turkey’s refusal to implement its important horizontal obligations and to cooperate with the Republic of Cyprus throughout the JHA sector.”
He also reminded his counterparts that “we repeatedly supported separating Turkey’s case from the rest of the package, stressing that the case of Turkey is different from the rest of the countries since it is a candidate country which lags substantially behind the European standards in the field protection of personal data, fundamental human rights and the rule of law “.
Nicolaou stressed that “as this is the first step in a process that is expected to be time consuming and difficult, the mandate that the Council gives to the Commission does not prejudge the final outcome of the negotiations at all.”
“We expect the Commission, within the terms of its mandate, to keep the Council regularly informed of developments and to accept any additional instructions.”