The present article draws on the theory developed in international relations and political sciences addressing the issue of the resolution of the Cyprus problem through EU involvement, referred to as the ‘catalyst proposition’, in particular in its ‘subversion’ version. Although it will be argued that the relevance of the catalyst effect of EU membership for Cyprus becomes more remote after 1999, this theoretical approach is nevertheless of great significance to explain issues related to Cyprus in a European context, as well as to examine the EU-Cyprus relations, at least until the Helsinki Summit. In particular, the legal dimension of the ‘subversion’ approach of the catalyst effect of EU membership will be examined with respect to Turkey’s EU membership prospects. It will however be shown that the absence of any political reform in Turkey’s policy towards Cyprus could well mean that the ‘catalyst proposition’, even in its ‘subversion’ version, has become inappropriate to address issues related to Cyprus within a European context. It would appear that there is a need for a new method of analysis of the integration of Cyprus into the EU. It is contended that socio-legal studies can offer this method of analysis of issues related to Cyprus in a European context, providing a link between law and policy and proving useful for Cyprus’ successful integration into the EU. Socio-legal studies acknowledge the existence of new modes of governance, which produce regulations, which interact with the social field. In the case of Cyprus, there exist several social interactions created by European integration, due in particular to the island’s specificities associated with the Cyprus problem. The EU has therefore built up a pluralistic approach leading to the European integration of Cyprus, of
which EU general policies, but also Community primary and secondary legislation as well as ECJ case law are the main components. It is argued that the integration of Cyprus into the EU could provide a particular model of integration, based on the specific need to fully integrate Cyprus despite its unsolved conflict. Trade can be used as a case study in order to validate this hypothesis.
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