On December 12, in Brussels, the European Union and Cuba signed the Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation. It will form the legal platform for future relations to support economic development and promote democracy and human rights on the island.
The Agreement is divided into three chapters: (1) political dialogue, covering issues such as governance, human rights, stability and regional and international security and weapons of mass destruction; (2) cooperation, which is the most comprehensive and identifies sectors of cooperation; and (3) promotion of trade and economic relations based on the rules governing international trade, as well as strengthening of existing relations “on the basis of mutual respect, reciprocity, mutual interest and respect sovereignty.” The Agreement also states the goal for both sides is to “engage in dialogue for the purpose of strengthening human rights and democracy.”
The Agreement was signed by the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, and Cuba’s Foreign Minister, Bruno Rodriguez, and below is a photograph of them on this event.
Minister Mogherini said, “This is a historic day, we’ve turned a page. Today we’re starting to write together a new chapter.” She also stated, “The developments in Washington that will come as of the end of January onwards will not affect in any way the relations between the European Union and Cuba. We are friends, we are partners. We want to work together and we will work together. The impact of this on others, it’s not for me to judge.”
This thought was echoed by Minister Rodriguez. “Relations between the EU and Cuba do not go via Washington and I remain convinced that there is now a very promising opportunity afforded us to further improve” EU-Cuba ties. He also noted “one major obstacle to trade relations between the EU and Cuba” — the U.S. economic and financial blockade.
Mogherini, supporting Rodriguez, said, “The European Union has raised concerns about the extraterritorial effect of U.S. sanctions on Cuba. We will continue to do so because we believe that this is not only in the interest of the island and its people — all of them — but most of all in our case, it’s in the interest of Europeans to tackle this issue.”
This new pact must now be ratified by national and regional parliaments in all EU member states before it can enter completely into force, although the bloc has decided to provisionally apply parts of it immediately.
As a prelude to the signing of the pact, on December 6, the EU agreed to terminate its 1996 Common Position on Cuba that required Cuban progress on human rights and democracy before normal trade relations with the EU.
This development should be a wakeup call to U.S. opponents of normalization of its relations with Cuba. The U.S. is not the only country that has relations with Cuba and delaying our normalization gives our competitors an advantage.
 Norman, Trump Presidency ‘Will Not Affect in Any Way,’ Relations between EU and Cuba, W.S.J. (Dec. 6, 2016); Assoc. Press, EU, Cuba Sign Cooperation Pact, Vow Trump Will Not Hurt Ties, N.Y. Times (Dec. 12, 2016); The European Union and the regime sign the Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation, Diario de Cuba (Dec. 12, 2016); Cuban foreign minister arrives in Brussels for signing agreement with the EU, Granma (Dec. 11, 2016); The European Union repealing Common Position on Cuba, Diario de Cuba (Dec. 6, 2016); Delegation of the European Union to Cuba, Cuba and the EU, 10/05/2016.
2 thoughts on “European Union and Cuba Agree To Cooperate on Political Dialogue, Cooperation, Trade and Economic Relations ”
More Details on Signing of EU-Cuba Agreement
Granma, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Cuba, has published the full text of Cuba Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez’ comments at the December 12 signing of the Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation.
Rodriguez, With goodwill and mutual respect it is possible to understand and advance mutual benefit, Granma (Dec. 12, 2016), http://www.granma.cu/mundo/2016-12-12/con-buena-voluntad-y-respeto-reciproco-es-posible-entenderse-y-avanzar-en-beneficio-mutuo-12-12-2016-23-12-15
EU-Cuba Agreement Criticized As Weak on Human Rights # 925A—12/16/16
European parliament members, Cuban dissidents and human rights organizations are criticizing the new EU-Cuba agreement as weak on human rights.
For example, Lars Adaktusson, a Swedish member of the European Parliament from the christian-democratic European People’s Party, said, “The EU should have asked for an end to the repression of political dissidents and a democratic reform before signing an accord like this one.” He added that the agreement “will be applied according to ‘constitutional principles,’ which in the Cuban case means according to the principles of a Communist dictatorship. By doing this, we have let the Cuban people down, as they have the same right to freedom and democracy as everybody else.”
These thoughts were echoed by another EU Parliament member, Pavel Telicka, a Czech who also is the second vice president of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. He said, “I believe that an EU-Cuba cooperation agreement may open new space for improved relations, but the European Union must keep human rights and fundamental freedoms at the core of this agreement. A substantial improvement must be a precondition in the talks with the Cuban government and for any economic concessions from the EU side.”
Thirty Cuban dissident groups sent a letter to to the EU stating “We are not opposed to an accord between our country and the European Union that benefits our people, but we reject this accord because it is not contingent on the exercise of the individual and collective freedoms of the Cuban people.” The letter also said that there’s been a notable increase in repression in recent months.
A Swedish human rights group, Civil Rights Defenders, recently published a scathing report about the agreement.
Torres, Agreement between Cuba and EU criticized as soft on human rights, Miami Herald (Dec. 15, 2016), http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/cuba/article121200758.html; Alvarez, EU lies and calla, Diario de Cuba (Dec. 16, 2016), http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1481821992_27458.html.