How the new naturalisation framework could boost the tech sector
George Ploutarchou 07:12 - 29 November 2023
It is anticipated that the proposed modernisation of the legislative framework governing naturalisations, especially the naturalisation of highly qualified professionals, will further boost the positive trajectory the technology sector in Cyprus has already been on in recent years.
Efforts to modernise the legislative framework is coming through a relevant law proposal by the president of DIKO Nikolas Papadopoulos, which he submitted to the Parliament on behalf of the party's parliamentary group and which is to be put to a vote in the Plenary of the House during its session on Thursday, 30 November.
Competent sources speaking to InBusinessNews on the subject noted that the current legislation regarding naturalisations came into force several decades ago and, therefore, it is necessary to modernise it on the basis of the current needs of the global market, and taking into account the examples of other European countries.
The multiple benefits that will arise
Pointing out that the establishment of Cyprus as a technological hub is a strategic goal that was set, both by the previous and the current Government, the same sources emphasised that in order to achieve this goal a supportive legal framework is required, and listed the multiple benefits that will result from this development.
As they explained in this regard, the modernisation of the legislative framework will lay the necessary foundations to attract foreign investment, talent and know-how, to promote innovation, as well as to develop domestic talent in the field of technology.
This, in turn, will fuel economic growth, create job opportunities and strengthen the country's reputation around the world.
The technology sector dynamic
Particularly in regard to the field of technology, it is true that in recent years, as mentioned above, Cyprus has built up a special dynamic and has, before it, a great opportunity to become an international technology hub.
Indicative of this is the fact that, based on sound foundations, the technology sector currently contributes over 13% of Cyprus' GDP. It is widely acknowleged that, with the right support, it can form the backbone of the country's economy, as it is expected to create future positions in the domestic labour market.
It is no coincidence that the presence of foreign companies in the technology sector has resulted in Cypriot graduates or Cypriots who have lived abroad for several years now returning to work and innovate on the island, as the opportunities that now exist in Cyprus are more plentiful and very well paid.
Lack of local expertise
However, as the field is still new, it is also a reality that there is a shortage of local expertise. Therefore, as has been duly highlighted, the need to attract and retain highly qualified technology professionals from abroad is imperative in order to support the development of the technology sector for the benefit of the Cyprus economy as a whole.
It is worth noting in this regard that, according to Eurostat, Cyprus has the lowest percentage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) graduates in the EU, with the relative percentage amounting to only 13.8%, and, the number of Cypriot STEM graduates fall significantly short of the increased labor market demand for this talent.
Hence, it becomes evident that foreign tech professionals can transfer their know-how to the local workforce, but also that the tech industry can provide training and upskilling opportunities to the local workforce to meet the demand for STEM talent.
Furthermore, since, based on global trends, the development of technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping the labour market and some jobs will be replaced by others focused on technology, it is considered important for Cyprus - as emphasised - to capitalise on the dynamics of its transformation into a technological hub, to stay ahead of the game and to ensure the development of the labor market.
The examples of other countries and how Cyprus compares
Moreover, it is good to point out that other countries are already doing this, such as Finland and Germany for example.
In particular, Finland has recently amended its naturalisation legislation, based on the following conditions:
- The Finnish Citizenship Act requires a continuous period of residence of 5 years in Finland with breaks not exceeding 30 months in total and knowledge of the Finnish language to level B1 or 4 years of residence with a maximum of 24 months of breaks in total and knowledge of the Finnish language at level B1.
Germany has also recently amended its naturalisation legislation based on the following conditions:
- Citizens who legally reside and work in Germany can apply for German citizenship in just five years.
- If applicants have a C1 level knowledge of the German language, they will be able to obtain citizenship after only three years.
With regard to Cyprus, the proposal that will be put before the Plenary of the Parliament on 30 November, under the title "The Civil Registry (Amendment) Law of 2023,” aims to amend the Civil Registry Laws of 2002 to 2021, and determines -among other things- specific qualifications for naturalisation.
Among them, sufficient knowledge of the Greek language at level B1, as defined in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages of the Council of Europe, based on the language certificates of the said level defined in a Ministerial Decree.
These certificates are granted after the foreigner submits to a written examination, which is carried out at regular intervals, in accordance with the said Ministerial Decree.
Adequate knowledge of basic elements of the contemporary political and social reality of the Republic is also a required qualification, the process and method of evaluation of which is determined by a three-member evaluation committee.
The committee is made up of representatives of the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice and Public Order.
A basic condition, of course, is that the applicant is highly qualified (with proven academic and professional qualifications, and earns a salary of at least €2,500 per month.)
See the law proposal going before the Plenary Session of the Parliament, in Greek, HERE