By Jean Christou
President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday welcomed the agreement in principle between the EU and the UK for Britain’s withdrawal from the bloc, and the protocol contained in the deal on the status of the British bases in Cyprus.
According to the protocol in the 585-page Brexit deal, the interests of some 11,000 Cypriots who live or work on the bases, have been protected and their rights as EU citizens secured. The protocol relating to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus will apply as from the end of the Brexit transition period in 2020.
“Since the arrangements applicable to relations between the Union and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus will continue to be defined within the context of the Republic of Cyprus’ membership of the Union, appropriate arrangements have been determined to achieve, after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union, the objectives of the arrangements set out in Protocol 3 to the Act of Accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the Union 147,” the agreement states.
“Those arrangements should ensure the proper implementation of the applicable Union law in relation to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union.”
As outlined in the Joint Statement of 19 June 2018, both the EU and the UK committed to establishing appropriate arrangements for the Sovereign Base Areas, “in particular with the aim to protect the interests of Cypriots who live and work in the SBAs following the UK’s withdrawal from the Union, in full respect of the rights and obligations under the Treaty of Establishment.”
The aim of the protocol is to ensure that EU law, in the areas stipulated in Protocol 3 to Cyprus’s Act of Accession, will continue to apply in the Sovereign Base Areas, with no disruption or loss of rights for the Cypriot civilians living and working in the areas of the SBAs. This applies to a number of policy areas such as taxation, goods, agriculture, fisheries and veterinary and phytosanitary rules.
The protocol confers responsibility on the Republic of Cyprus for the implementation and enforcement of Union law in relation to most of the areas covered, with the exception of security and military affairs.
Anastasiades, in his statement said the protocol in the withdrawal agreement as regards the bases was a result of several months of negotiations between the Republic of Cyprus, supported by the European Commission and the UK.
“I want to express my complete satisfaction with the final result, which ensures the uninterrupted continuation of the implementation of the European acquis in the Sovereign Base Areas, in the specific areas provided for in Protocol 3 of the Act of Accession of Cyprus to the EU,” he said.
“I am absolutely convinced that the arrangements that have been agreed in principle in the new protocol fully safeguards the legal rights and interests of both Cypriot and EU citizens living and working in the Sovereign Base Areas and the Republic of Cyprus itself, with continuation of the acquis in the British Bases, which from the outset was the primary objective of the government.”
Anastasiades said the withdrawal of the UK from the EU is one of the biggest challenges ever experienced by the European Union in its history and has been met with the show unity and solidarity among the other 27 member states.
“Equally important is the fact that the withdrawal agreement paves the way for establishing the EU’s future relations with the UK. The Republic of Cyprus, which has close historic, economic and social ties with the UK, wants the closest possible relationship to the benefit of both countries and will work within the Council in this direction,” the president concluded.
Meanwhile, also on Thursday, British High Commissioner Stephen Lillie reassured that the rights of both Britons living in Cyprus and Cypriots living in the UK post-Brexit had been secured. He was speaking after a meeting with Limassol Mayor Nicos Nicolaides.
“We are very pleased that Britain and the EU have reached an agreement on the future of our relations and our departure from the European Union,” he said. “We are leaving the EU but we are not abandoning Europe and we will continue to have strong economic ties and security ties but also strong ties between people. ”
Cyprus, Lillie said was a typical example of these ties in terms of businesses and educational institutions, while the new agreement would ensure that this continues.
He also noted that Protocol 3 did not change anything for the 11,000 citizens residing within the bases areas. “We have secured the rights of Cypriots living and working in the Bases and this is good,” he added.
In reference to British citizens residing on the island, he said their rights were also guaranteed as well as Cypriots and all European citizens living in Great Britain who “will continue to live, work and to have access to public services, to the health system, as they have today. ”
Lillie was later on Thursday to meet Britons living permanently on the island to answer their concerns and questions about Brexit.