Cyprus Schengen Membership Application
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Hristodulides told the deputies on Monday, November 5 that the government had applied for entry into the Schengen zone earlier in September.
Speaking to the Finance Committee of the House of Representatives, presenting the draft budget for 2020, Minister Christodoulides said that the Republic of Cyprus announced its readiness to become a member of the Schengen zone, and now the EU should begin the evaluation process.
“The government has submitted an application for security reasons, and now we expect the European Union to come and start the assessment process, which is divided into five parts,” said Minister Christodoulides. Cyprus is one of the four EU countries, but non-Schengen, along with Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, three of which have completed the five-stage assessment process and are currently awaiting admission. Until now, the country could not join the Schengen area due to its territorial division following the events of 1974, when an attempted coup was made in the island country. However, since May 2004, it has been part of the European Union. In January 2008, Cypriots began using the euro as the country’s official currency.
After his speech to the IPU, Minister Christosulides asked Minister Marinos Sisopoulos about the issue of Golden visas issued by the Republic of Cyprus. The Cyprus Golden Visa is a scheme that allows foreigners who invest a certain amount of money in the country to simultaneously obtain EU citizenship and passport, which gives the holder the right to travel throughout the EU and most other countries located in Europe.
In January 2019, the European Commission presented a report on citizenship and residence schemes for investors operating in several EU countries, which identified risks associated with such schemes as money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.
Among other things, the reports emphasized that in the EU, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta were the only countries granting citizenship to investors without the obligation of physical residence. It also outlines the steps that need to be taken to solve these problems.
In mid-February, the Cyprus Government cabinet approved several changes to the Golden Visa scheme in accordance with EU guidelines, including more stringent criteria for applicants, verification of data by a specialized foreign company and immediate rejection of applicants who had already been rejected from any other EU member.
Hristodulides told Sisopoulos that because of this problem, Cyprus asked the EU to start the first part of the assessment of the application for Schengen access, so that the country could gain access to EU internal information.
“This is how we can access EU internal information in order to strengthen the country’s security regarding people coming to Cyprus,” said Khristodulide.