Just in time for the upcoming Cyprus EU Council Presidency, the EU Court of Auditors issued a special report on EU assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community.
In fact, between February 2006 and September 2011, a total of 292.3 million Euro was planned and 259.4 million were actually contracted, 178.8 million Euro of which have been paid out (p.8).
Not surprisingly, the process of implementing the EU programmes already started with the difficult administrative and political situation on Cyprus:
“The Commission faced a major challenge in finding a suitable structure for implementing the programme. While EU funding in Member States is normally implemented through national bodies, this was not possible for this programme given that the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control over the northern part of Cyprus. At the same time, however, it was also not possible to set up an EU delegation to implement the assistance because delegations can only be established outside the EU and the whole island is legally part of the EU”
And so, while the Court of Auditors finds some successes and a number of relevant projects, it concludes that
“the sustainability of projects is often in doubt due to the limited administrative capacity, the delayed adoption of relevant ‘laws and regulations’ and the uncertainties over future funding on the part of the TCc authorities. “
The main issue raised is the failure of the Commission to implement a contract for a 27 million Euro desalination plant in Northern Cyprus, which appears to be the single biggest project in the whole programme. At least the Commission indicates in its response (p.33) that no payments had been made for this contract.
Still, one wonders why those programmes are made in the first place if they are irrealistic or not manageable with the administrative structures the EU has at its disposition. Just asking.
PS: EU trivia – the EU Council has asked the “Ad hoc Working Party on the follow-up to the Council conclusions on Cyprus of 26 April 2004″ to deal with this report. Sounds like a real ad-hoc thing, this post-2004 committee.