Ministers, government officials, representatives of the European Commission and experts highlighted the importance of reforms through the National Recovery and Resilience Plan on Friday, during the first annual event on the Recovery Plan, held in Nicosia.
Interior Minister Nicos Nouris referred to the local government reform, noting that Cyprus will have 20 large municipalities and 30 municipality clusters out of the previous 357, which creates a new dynamic in local government. We are currently in the transitional stage of the implementation of the local government reform, he said, noting that a more needs to be done in the next 17 months left until June 2024 when the reform will have been completed, with the first local government municipal elections taking place at the same time as the European elections in May 2024.
Minister of Justice and Public Order, Stefi Drakou, said the Plan came to support the Government's efforts to modernise the rule of law with two main pillars, which are judicial reform and the fight against corruption. Drakou said that they included projects and actions that would help in this direction and noted that citizens will see the benefits the citizen gradually, starting from the end of 2023 and within the coming 2 years.
On the fight against corruption, Drakou said that the laws establishing the independent anti-corruption authority, as well as the ones on the protection of whistleblowers and transparency in public decision-making processes were passed "with an overwhelming majority" and entered into force. The Minister expressed satisfaction at what she said was the timely achievement of all the milestones and expressed determination to work with the same zeal to achieve the remaining milestones included in the Plan.
The Director of the European Commission's Recovery and Resilience Task Force (SG-RECOVER) Maria Teresa Fabregas Fernandes, said the Cyprus Plan, "is ambitious", adding that the European Commission identified suggestions for each state to overcome challenges and Cyprus included in its Plan reforms and investments that would address these suggestions.
It is clear, she added, that the broad reforms in the Plan would help support the correction of the macroeconomic imbalances that have been identified, while promoting a more inclusive and sustainable growth model in the country. "We have 58 reforms and 75 investments and these reforms are really necessary in order for the investments to have a real impact on the Cypriot economy and society," Fernandes said.
Energy, Trade and Industry Minister Natasa Pilides said in her remarks on Green Transition that it is a "complicated project" but one that opens up "huge potential" for Cyprus, and this is already evident from the actions that have been implemented.
Pilides also noted that the amount of funding is "unprecedented", as they have already absorbed around €800 million of funds from various ministries, of which 80% is from her own, something that demonstrates the important role of the ministry in terms of the actions to be taken to prevent climate change and change practices both in terms of the transition to green energy and the circular economy and industry.
She noted that the transition to green energy requires a very serious level of investment, in the order of trillions for the EU and for Cyprus certainly more than 1 billion at present, but much more money in the medium term.
The European Commission's Special Advisor on Green Transition, Hans van Steen, speaking via teleconference, said that the Cyprus Plan is very good and focuses on some key points, but in general there is a need in the EU for a change in energy systems in order to get a higher share of renewable energy. He said that Cyprus is dependent on fossil fuels to a much higher degree compared to other EU countries.