1. Programme Strategy: main challenges and policy responses
Cyprus (CY) a front-line Member State (MS), as an island, shares no common borders while it does not belong to the Schengen area yet. Due to the turkish invasion in 1974 the Republic of CY (RoC) has since been illegally divided and is prevented from exercising effective control in 37% of CY’s territory which falls under turkish military occupation. There exists a 180 km-long buffer zone between the ceasefire line of the turkish occupation forces and the Cyprus National Guard, called the ‘Green Line’, supervised by the United Nations Peacekeeping Force which in conjunction with the fact that over 70% of the overall influx come directly from Turkey or through the areas which are not under the effective control of the RoC, create unique conditions for irregular migration.
These types of migratory flows arriving to CY via those routes are expected to continue, if not increase, as long as there are areas that do not fall under the effective control of the RoC in correlation with the political and socioeconomic developments in the neighbouring area of the Middle East and the subsequent migratory pressure.
Τhe general objective of CY as defined in the CY IBM Strategy (August 2020) is to ensure a high level of control and protection of external borders and facilitate smoother border crossings. CY Strategy is under constant monitoring in order to be fully harmonised with EU priorities incl. recommendations from border management related reports (Frontex Vulnerability Assessment, Schengen evaluations, Country Specific Recommendations) and any national policy developments.
The RoC based on the Accession Act in 2003 is committed to fully applying the Schengen acquis. The preparation for its full accession into the Schengen Area is still in process and there are still needs to be covered. The Programme will be used to accommodate any Schengen Evaluation with financial implications that may be issued to CY.
Based on the strategic priorities, Schengen evaluations and Vulnerability Assessments, actions implemented in PP 2014-2020, CY aims to achieve the following:
- Improve border control through:
- Effective communication with other MS, staff training, replacing/ upgrading existing infrastructure and installing new technologies.
- Improving capabilities for prevention and early detection of migrant flows and unauthorised border crossings and illegal migration by upgrading the available specialised equipment and infrastructure and ensuring adequate technical support.
- Improving and support first reception infrastructure and capacity in line with the Union’s commitments on fundamental rights in order to effectively manage migration flows.
- Develop the national components (staff, training, equipment, IT systems) of the European Border and Coast Guard (FRONTEX).
- Effectively address recommendations from the Schengen Evaluations and Vulnerability Assessments in order to conform with the EU acquis (IBM strategy, human resources, trainings, border checks/ procedures/ surveillance).
- Support the development of large-scale IT tools based on EU acquis/ legislation which need to be operational once CY becomes a Schengen member.
- Enhance SAR operations and capabilities through trainings, upgrade/ replacement of equipment/ IT tools, cooperation with other MS/ third countries.
The harmonisation of visa policy with the EU acquis is a priority for CY. The main objective is to improve the quality and effectiveness of its consular capabilities as well as sustain a level of effective visa processing and establish its consular presence, where necessary, to conform with the Schengen requirements in short-stay visa issuing procedures.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, responsible for consulates and visas, has already applied a significant part of the Schengen acquis in terms of the common visa policy. However, much remain to be done in order for CY to comply with Schengen requirements, facilitate legitimate travel and prevent migratory and security risks.
Support the Visa policy and procedures through the improvement of infrastructures, IT tools, security, staff, trainings in order to facilitate legitimate travel and prevent migratory and security risks with the help of the Programme.
2. Potential beneficiaries under the BMVI funding instrument
Potential beneficiaries under the BMVI funding instrument are the relevant public bodies who hold a de jure responsibility to form and regulate the policy of CY regarding the areas covered by the Fund Other potential beneficiaries include academic institutions, international organizations, social partners and any other body that may have an impact in the area of border management, incl. migration flows and first reception, and visa policy: