EuroUnion OKs mandate to deal with Cuba


EFE.BRUSSELS, Feb. 5 — The permanent ambassadors from the 28 European Union nations on Wednesday approved a mandate to negotiate a bilateral agreement with Cuba, EU sources said.
he same sources said that, following the authorization of the permanent representatives, final approval will be reached next Monday (Feb. 10) during the council of EU foreign ministers as an issue not requiring debate.

In late 2012, the foreign ministers of the EU asked the chief of European diplomacy, Catherine Ashton, to explore the possibilities to eventually negotiate a bilateral accord with Cuba.

Brussels may then begin to negotiate a partnership agreement with Havana while it retains the Common Position that rules EU policy toward the island.

The Common Position, which has been in effect since 1996, conditions all progress in relations to advances in democratization and human rights observance on the island, defending direct contact with the dissidents.

It is up to “The Twenty-eight” to change the Common Position, which Havana rejects.

The EU member states have thus overcome the final obstacles to the mandate for negotiation and have opened the way for the ministers to adopt the accord formally, without vetoes from any countries, the sources said.

In recent weeks, Germany and a few other countries appeared reluctant to support the mandate, although their objections were limited to “some pending internal issues” related more to technical and procedural issues than to the objective of the discussions, the sources said.

Among The Twenty-eight there was “a collective will to advance toward the start of the negotiations,” the sources added.

The next step in the procedure will be for the Council of Foreign Ministers of the EU not to debate the issue but approve it directly when it comes up on the agenda for Feb. 10.

Once the Council authorizes the mandate of negotiation, it will give the green light to Ashton and the European Commission to open talks with Havana.

Cuba is the only Latin American country with whom the European Union has not signed any agreements.


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