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Cyprus steps up no deal Brexit preparations

April 7, 2019 at 10:09am
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As attention turns to the April 10 EU summit to discuss a request by British Prime Minister for an extension to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, Cyprus’ preparations for a no deal Brexit have entered their final stretch, Phileleftheros reports.

It said the ministries are drafting legislation since should the UK crash out of the EU without a deal,  as this would require bilateral agreements. Should the UK leave with an agreement, negotiations will be held at EU level.

Cyprus’ preparations are coordinated by the Foreign Ministry and each ministry has been asked to record their positions. Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry will in the next few days launch an information portal to address Brexit-related queries.

Education Ministry

The Education Ministry needed to resolve the issue with the franchise of British Universities operating here which will require legislation. Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides has informed the House Education Committee that a number of bills are before the attorney general’s office. He added that 10,500 Cypriots are currently studying in the UK. There will be no change to the Erasmus programme and all students who register in 2019 will continue under the same regime as regards fees and student loans. It remains unclear what will happen after that.

Interior and Labour Ministries

The residence and work of Britons living in Cyprus will be safeguarded with legislation both as regards social insurance and their continued legal residence here.  There are regulations as regards social insurance whereas as regards the freedom of movement and residence of British citizens, a bill has been drafted by the Interior Ministry which has also briefed personnel working at points of entry.

Health Ministry

No additional legislation is required, at least for the time being.

Agriculture Ministry

There is nothing the state can do on this issue. The situation as regards the registration and protection of products such as the PDO products (protection designation of origin) remains unclear. There is no undertaking by the UK that it will recognise EU rules.

Deputy Tourism Ministry

British visitors will be able to visit Cyprus for 90 days without a visa.

Finance Ministry

There are proposals to amend some laws, such as the law on VAT, which are before the attorney general’s office.

New Interior Ministry information platform 

The Interior Ministry will be launching an information platform in the new few days with all the information relating to Cyprus and Brexit and will answer issues of concern to citizens and companies.

In the event of a no deal Brexit every EU member state will have to regulate its bilateral relations on issues of exclusive responsibility of the state such as health and education. On issues of joint responsibility such as air transport, agreements reached between the EU and the UK will apply.

Member states can still not enter into bilateral agreements.

Airports ready

The EU has taken temporary measures to safeguard air connectivity for passengers and cargo in the event of a no deal Brexit. These require reciprocity from the UK.

Under a special provision, scheduled flights will continue until October 26, 2019 to give time to national authorities to make the necessary changes.

Cyprus’ airports are on standby for a no deal Brexit and all necessary preparations have been made should this occur. Four issues are in play – entrance requirements, security, connectivity and civil aviation permits. The passport issue has been resolved by the Interior Ministry. Hermes Airports has suggested that the current procedures (border express), remain in place so that there is no need for additional police however any decision will be taken by the Interior Ministry. As regards security the Commission has decided that current checks remain in place.

 Business community on alert

The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry is on the light with deputy general secretary Leonidas Paschalides telling the paper that the repercussions will be horizontal and depend on what happens to the pound sterling as Britons account for 35% of visitors to Cyprus. In addition, 6.5% of Cyprus exports go to the UK.

He said a temporary arrangement has been made as regards tariffs for 12 months under which 87% of products will be tariff free, including products exported by Cyprus such as potatoes and halloumi.

If tariffs are introduced at some stage, then exporters will be affected and need to find other markets, he said. Imports from the UK account for 5% of the total and any drop can be covered, he said.

New customs arrangements

Products imported from or exported to the UK will need to follow customs procedures and may be subject to customs checks. Imported products will be subject to custom duties in line with the EU’s common customs tariff.