The Green Line Regulation has been critical in ensuring that both communities can freely enjoy their day-to-day lives, the European Commission underlines in a press release on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of free movement in Cyprus on the basis of the regulation, while Commissioner Elisa Ferreira underlines in a statement that these everyday interactions “have the potential to pave the way to Cyprus’ reunification”.

“By encouraging free movement and green line trade, the EU is not only allowing both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to reap the benefits that both communities have to offer, but also enhancing everyday interactions”, Ferreira, who is the Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, said in a written statement, on Monday.

“These exchanges have the potential to pave the way to Cyprus’ reunification” she added. “The EU is committed to facilitating this reunification, and I am pleased to see that the Green Line Regulation has achieved so much in its 20-year lifetime” she stressed.

As noted in the press release, the regulation has enabled Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to cross the Green Line and the United Nations’ controlled buffer zone in Cyprus, helping to build trust between the two communities and pave the way to Cyprus’ reunification. The Commission also announced that it would celebrate the 20th anniversary with a special event in Nicosia on Monday.

Since its entry into force in April 2004, the Green Line has been crossed in both directions more than 64 million times, the press release points out.

Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots cross the Green Line for a variety of reasons, including shopping and eating in restaurants in the other community due to cheaper prices or a different range of products, as well as visiting cultural monuments or different towns or visiting friends.

Businesses engage in Green Line trade and cross to meet their partners from the other community. Some Turkish Cypriots also work and study in the government-controlled areas.

The Regulation also lays down rules concerning trade from the areas not effectively controlled by the government of Cyprus, where EU legislation is suspended, to the territory of the Republic of Cyprus under the control of the government, which is part of the EU’s Single Market.

Commission efforts to boost Green Line trade have contributed to increasing the value of trade to a record 16 million euro in 2023, a stark jump from 6.2 million euro in 2021.

Earlier this month, the Commission launched a new 4 million euro support scheme which will offer financial grants and technical assistance to Turkish Cypriot SMEs so that they can engage in or maximise on Green Line trade.

The projects will assist businesses in addressing the challenge of ensuring their products comply with EU standards, which is a requirement for their placement on the EU market.

In November 2023, the Commission also launched an EU One Stop Shop supporting Green Line Trade and Businesses in Nicosia, designed to provide information, advice, and support to both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot producers and traders interested in trading across the Green Line.

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