Friday’s vote at the plenum on a proposed bill seeking to establish the free movement in the Republic of Cyprus of UK nationals and of Cypriot nationals living in the UK in the case of a hard Brexit was postponed for one week to give time to lawmakers to study the bill in more detail.
Following discussion of the bill during an extraordinary meeting of the House interior committee on Thursday, the bill was placed before the plenum on Friday where MPs were expected to follow an urgent voting procedure. However they will now be voting on the bill on April 12, the date when a no-deal Brexit could take place.
If passed, the bill will only come to effect in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Despite the majority of lawmakers opposing a postponement of the vote, House President Demetris Syllouris and Interior Minister Constantinos Petrides agreed to shift the voting date.
The plenum was informed by Syllouris and Disy president Averof Neophytou of the new Brexit proposal tabled by European Council President Donald Tusk, whereby Britain would be granted a ‘flextension’ – or ‘flexible extension’ of its divorce date of up to a year, which could be cut short if the House of Commons passes UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s exit deal.
According to the chair of the House interior committee, Eleni Mavrou, the terms of the bill are those of the draft agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU.
While Mavrou told media on Thursday that in the special arrangements for British citizens set out by the bill is a term stating that British citizens will not need a visa for a three-month stay on the island, on Friday she told the plenum that “the issue of visas and the issue of permanent residence are two different matters, and the matter of visas is not covered by the bill.”
In clarifications to the Cyprus Mail, Mavrou confirmed that visas are indeed not covered by the specific bill, but the visa exemption for visits by British citizens of up to three months is being set through decisions on the EU level.
“Terms laid out on the EU level, like the issue of visas, will be in force for the transition period, though they are subject to change should the EU make new decisions,” Mavrou said.
Mainly, the bill covers UK citizens living in the Republic, and through the principle of reciprocity it also covers Cypriot nationals living in the UK, though in a less direct way, Mavrou added.