Direct Trade with north Cyprus rumours spread

European Parliament

The second largest group in the European Parliament, the Group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats (S&D),  have apparently called for direct trade between the EU and north Cyprus. According to the Cyprus Mail they released a statement on Tuesday supporting the implementation of the direct trade regulation originally proposed by the European Commission in 2004. Martin Schulz, the President of the S&D group, is quoted as saying the adoption of this regulation would help improve the Turkish Cypriot economy and would possibly put pressure on the south to agree a solution to the Cyprus Problem.

Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule has supposedly sent the draft regulation to the EP but failed to mention this to the south’s Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou in their recent meeting. Fule has apparently argued that the procedure had been started last December by his predecessor, based on the new rules that apply under the Lisbon Treaty.

The Cypriot government had considered that since north Cyprus is part of the Republic, as stipulated in Protocol 10 of the Accession Treaty, they would not be allowed to trade as a separate entitity. However, the European Commission apparently holds a different view and feels that as the EU has failed to keep its promise to end Turkish Cypriot isolation it is appropriate to reconsider the issue. This latest step by Brussels seems to be intended to put pressure on Greek Cypriots for a solution while at the same time giving Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat a much-needed push in his re-election bid.

The fact that the S&D group is rumoured to support the regulation hugely increases its chances of passing the first hurdle, which is the EP. It must then pass through the European Council, which will decide using qualified majority voting. Importantly, this meaning the Republic of Cyprus no longer has a veto on the issue.

Accessing the S&D’s website gives very little credence to this rumour as shown by a search using “direct trade Cyprus” which returns only two results both of which refer to 2007. It is difficult to fathom out why the only sources of these rumours are Cypriot and nothing can be found on EU related sites. Could it be yet another poor attempt to influence the elections in north Cyprus on 18th April?

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