A group of experts from the European Commission and the supervisory authorities of the EU member states has reached Cyprus, November 24, 2019, under the purpose of assessing how ready the island country is to join the Schengen Area after it filed a membership request in September this year.
According to Cypriot Commissioner Irene Loizidou Nikolaidou, the EU experts will assess her office of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection, in a bid to find out whether it can exercise adequate supervision over systems and procedures that the Public authorities have or must have in order to fully and correctly implement the Schengen acquis.
“In practice, joining the Schengen zone implies stricter control of the European Union’s external borders and the abolition of restrictions while moving from one Schengen state to another. Accession to the Schengen will have significant benefits, both for Cypriot citizens who can move without passport control within the Schengen area, as well as for the country’s security, economy, tourism, and many other areas,” Commissioner Nikolaidou explained in an attempt to further point out the importance of this assessment.
Later on, given that Cyprus receives a positive assessment in the field of personal data, the EU is expected to carry on further evaluations in 2020 in areas of border management, the return of illegal stayers, visa issuance, the Schengen IT systems, weapons, police and judicial cooperation.
Following a visit to Nicosia police, the Cypriot Justice Minister Giorgos Savvides said that the government was focusing on efforts to develop at a national level the Schengen Information System SIS II, which is the largest information system for public security in Europe.
“It is an information exchange system that will enhance the capacity of the police in crime prevention as it can help in the early detection of suspected persons arriving at the Republic through the occupied areas or by boats off the coast of Cyprus,” the minister said.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides had announced in early November in front of the House Committee on Finance that the government had applied to become part of the Schengen Area earlier in September.
The island country of Cyprus is one of the four EU but non-Schengen countries attempting to join the Schengen territory, alongside Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia. However, while the three others have completed the five-stage evaluation process and are now waiting for admission, Cyprus is starting this procedure only now.
Cyprus, which is part of the European Union since May 2004, has been unable to join the Schengen area for several reasons, mostly because of its territorial division, that has followed the events of 1974, when a coup attempt took place in the country.