Although they are often grouped with the other 13 British Overseas Territories, the sovereign bases of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in Cyprus merit separate analysis in view of Brexit, especially since the east Bases – specifically the corridor that connects Dhekelia with Agios Nikolaos – today constitutes a de facto external border of the EU.
In view of Brexit, the relationship of the Bases with the Republic of Cyprus should be reviewed and clarified, in accordance with the European principles of proportionality and subsidiarity enshrined in Article 5 of the Treaty on the EU, which respectively provide that any action should not exceed what is strictly necessary to achieve the pre-agreed objectives, and determine the most appropriate level of intervention in areas of shared competence. It should be noted that, in relation specifically to the principle of proportionality, that the "carrot" to the Annan Plan constituted the British promise to cede back to the Republic of Cyprus a significant part of the Bases, the rural or residential areas, which would not affect the military operation of the Bases, and which are strictly speaking not required in order to achieve the military objectives of the Bases. The principle of proportionality and the reasons for applying this principle should not be revocable depending on the passing of the Plan. Cyprus today is faced with a unique opportunity to leverage the strength of the EU and negotiate its position regarding the Bases to finally clarify the actual legal status of UK sovereignty over the Bases, and the conditions subject to which it will continue.
Cyprus is now an independent and sovereign EU state, with an obligation to protection the welfare of its residents. With the exit of the UK from the EU and the forthcoming negotiations, now is the time to bring back to the fore, clarify and assert ambiguous issues pertaining to the Bases that are of common interest to Cyprus and the EU (i) to clarify the legal status of the Bases; (ii) to safeguard the rights of the EU citizens residing and working within the Bases; and (iii) to amend the old texts which govern the relationship between the Bases and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus so as to clarify the rights and obligations of each party.
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