Documents considered by the Committee on 15 September 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

8   EU law and the Sovereign Base Areas



COM(10) 155

Commission Report: implementation of the provisions of Protocol No.3 to the 2003 Act of Accession on the Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Cyprus

Legal base
Document originated19 April 2010
Deposited in Parliament25 May 2010
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 20 May 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone
To be discussed in CouncilTo be determined
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested


8.1  The Sovereign Base Areas (SBA) cover approximately 98 square miles in the south coast of Cyprus. The Akrotiri Base (Western SBA) covers 47.5 square miles whilst, some 60 miles to the east, the Dhekelia Base (Eastern SBA) covers 50.5 square miles. WSBA abuts the Republic of Cyprus, whereas ESBA additionally abuts the Turkish Controlled area and the United Nations buffer zone. Republic of Cyprus territory separates the two divisions. SBA residents total approximately 15,700: 7,700 Cypriots, 3,900 Service and UKBC personnel, of whom 3,600 live in the SBAs, and nearly 5,000 dependants, of whom over 4,400 live in the SBAs. There are also nearly 2,700 locally employed civilians.[17]

The Commission Report

8.2  This is the Commission's first report on the implementation of Protocol 3 to the 2003 Act of Accession on the SBAs. It covers the period 1 May 2004 to 30 April 2009. The Protocol determines which provisions of the Treaty establishing the European Community and related European Union law apply to the SBAs.

8.3  The Protocol came into force on 1 May 2004, on the same day that the Republic of Cyprus acceded to the EU. The SBAs have the status of a British Overseas Territory, having been retained by the UK when the Republic of Cyprus became independent in 1960. They do not form part of EU territory, as stipulated in the UK's 1972 Treaty of Accession. However, Protocol 3 puts in place special arrangements for the SBAs regarding certain provisions of the treaties and related EU law. The purpose is to ensure that Cypriots within the SBAs enjoy the same EU benefits as those resident in the Republic.

8.4  In his Explanatory Memorandum of 20 May 2010, the Minister for Europe (David Lidington) describes the Commission's assessment of the implementation of Protocol 3 as broadly positive. He notes that:

—   the report has not identified any irregularities or complaints on phytosanitary and veterinary issues, social security or Justice and Home Affairs;

—  in relation to Common Agricultural Policy, the report identifies minor problems in handling applications and executing on-the-spot controls, which were reported by the Republic of Cyprus;

—  the report does note, however, risks in relation to reliefs and exemptions from duties and taxes on supplies to UK forces and associated personnel, and in the extension of these exemptions to their dependants;

—  the SBA Administration is committed to working with the Commission and the Republic of Cyprus to address these issues.

The Government's view

8.5   The Minister considers that the SBA Administration is implementing the provisions of Protocol 3 satisfactorily, and says that the Government "remains committed to ensuring that these provisions continue to be applied and the Commission's concerns addressed, so that Cypriots within the SBAs enjoy the same EU benefits as those resident in the Republic."

8.6  He continues his comments as follows:

"The SBA Administration believes that there are effective control systems in place in relation to the Commission's comments on taxation that do not extend the exemptions wider than necessary, and there are local procedures in place which control the quantity and frequency of the availability of goods.

"Some confusion regarding the tax-free purchase of goods for personal rather than official use has been brought to the attention of private companies and the practice has been revoked. In relation to the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy, the SBA Administration intends to consider its position on leases for agricultural areas in light of the Commission's comments."


8.7  We note that there are no plans for the Council to respond to the Commission report, and that the Minister appears to regard addressing the issues raised by the Commission as unlikely to cause any future difficulties.

8.8  Nonetheless, we ask the Minister to confirm that, regarding the Government's and the SBA Administration's commitments referred to above, Cypriots within the SBAs do indeed enjoy the same EU benefits as those resident in the Republic and that addressing the issues raised by the Commission will not affect this in any way.

17   See for further information on the SBA. Back

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