Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Agreement Between Cuba and Europe “By the End of the Year”

March 27, 2015

convergencia

HAVANA, Cuba – Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, insisted in Havana that the pact between Cuba and the EU that will establish a ‘roadmap’ to normalization of relations will be ratified by the end of 2015.

Meetings between Cuban and EU representatives have been taking place on a regular basis for several years now after a warming in relations.

The lowest point in recent memory between the two sides occurred in 2003 when Cuba arrested 75 political opponents of the government for sabotage and the EU then invited several dissidents to various European embassies in Havana on those EU countries’ respective national holidays to speak at diplomatic receptions. Cuba responded angrily to the gesture and cut off diplomatic ties with many EU nations.

After the EU changed its position and stopped inviting dissidents to diplomatic functions, Cuba re-established diplomatic ties and the suspension of high level visits to Cuba was lifted by the EU.

By 2008, the EU lifted any remaining economic sanctions on Cuba and by 2010, the last of the 75 political prisoners arrested in 2003 were released, with the vast majority of them released long before their original sentences were completed.

In January of 2013, Holland’s Foreign Minister Franciscus ‘Frans’ Timmermans, urged the European Union to encourage more dialogue with Cuba in the first Dutch Foreign Ministry visit to the island nation since the Cuban Revolution of 1959. The following month, after deliberation and persuading doubtful EU members like the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany, the 28-member bloc’s European Commission ruled in favor of opening formal dialogue with Raúl Castro’s administration in a vote.

The eventual goal was to have a new framework for relations, including political, social and economic dialogue, by the beginning of 2015. The process was delayed (but never suspended) as the European Union worked to solve crises within its borders and Cuba was involved in re-establishing diplomatic links with the United States. Regardless of the short delay, the plan is still going ahead.

Bruno Rodríguez, the Cuban Foreign Minister, appreciated the visit of the EU’s highest external representative. Her “presence gives more importance and a boost” to the talks between the two sides and Rodríguez said he will now reciprocate by visiting Brussels in late April to engage in more dialogue with EU representatives.

“We have a clear feeling of closeness and will to cooperate. Europe can accompany Cuba as it undertakes its planned reforms through investments in agriculture, renewable energy and tourism, among other sectors,” Mogherini said in Havana.

The economic aspect is important as Cuba is looking to reform much of its energy sector. At the moment, the island nation depends on oil for almost all of its energy needs and the EU, with experience in developing alternative energy networks like solar, hydroelectric and wind, among others, can be of great help to Cuba’s reform aims.

The issues the EU still has with Cuba’s detention of radical dissidents and other issues they see as human rights abuses will be discussed through the already established dialogue but if any further issues should arise, they will be solved separately through parallel negotiations with the mediation of Cuban officials and Stavros Lambrinidis, the European Union’s Special Representative for Human Rights.

Although the EU has had concrete plans with Cuba in regard to normalizing relations for several years now, perhaps the latest action to place more importance on the issue was spurred by the normalizing of relations between Washington and Havana. In turn, Washington likely hurried to re-establish relations with Havana due to the EU’s ongoing talks with the island.

Both entities, however, ramped up their efforts after Cuba engaged in economic-centered negotiations concerning multi-billion dollar projects with China, Brazil, Russia and others.

Whatever the new agreement is, if and when it is agreed upon, it will replace the current EU policy toward Cuba called the Common Position. This policy was ratified in 1996 and developed by the conservative People’s Party government of José María Aznar, the Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004.

The policy maintains that the EU’s position on Cuba is one that encourages democracy and political pluralism on the island, with an emphasis on human rights. Until Cuba changes these policies, the EU’s stance is that the bloc will unilaterally stop all institutional dialogue with the country.

Cuba rejects the Common Position as it is unilateral and equates the policy to an interference in Cuban internal affairs. The Cuban government’s stance is an understandable one, given that the Common Policy is also applied by the EU to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda but not a single other sovereign nation.

The policy, however, would be on its way out if Mogherini is right in predicting a solution by the end of the year.

Rodríguez, the Foreign Minister, has repeatedly announced his nation’s full support for normalizing relations: “Cuba has all the willingness to discuss a political agreement with the European Union on the basis of equal terms and mutual respect, and we welcome the European Union’s proposal for an end to the unilateral policy on Cuba via bilateral negotiations.”

“Unilateral political policies, like those of the US toward Cuba enacted during the long-gone Cold War, do not work and are destined to fail,” the Cuban official insisted.

The US and EU position on Cuba, albeit both are slowly changing their stances, is an outdated one. In October of 2014, for the 23rd consecutive time, the United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn the United States’ half-century embargo on Cuba by a vote of 188 to 2, with the only ‘no’ votes coming from the US and its staunch ally Israel.

Along with changing opinions on the Old Continent, the changes in Cuba have had effects on the way the island nation is seen. Since coming to power, Raúl Castro’s administration has removed restrictions against the purchase of certain products previously deemed illegal, gave unused state-owned land to private farmers and farming cooperatives, eased travel restrictions and internet access, significantly reduced state spending, and encouraged many entrepreneurial initiatives.

Politically, Fidel’s younger brother has also placed a limit on presidential terms and said that he would step down after his second term ends in 2018, giving Cuba its first non-Castro leader since the Revolution of 1959.

It would behoove both sides to approve the new framework for diplomacy. The EU is the largest investor in Cuba and its second largest trading partner after Venezuela, while hundreds of thousands of EU residents flock to Cuba’s beaches every year, accounting for more than half of all visitors in the vital tourism sector of the island nation.

http://inserbia.info/today/2015/03/agreement-between-cuba-and-eu-by-the-end-of-the-year/

Cuba’s economic reforms: Socialism with neoliberal characteristics ?

April 17, 2014

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by Nile Bowie *

Havana has prioritized foreign investment and private enterprise, slashed state-sector jobs, while seeking closer cooperation with the European Union. Will Cuba’s latest market-based reforms undermine the social gains of the 1959 Revolution?

Times are complicated in revolutionary Cuba. President Raúl Castro is well into his second term and plans to officially step down in 2018; he is now laying the groundwork for a new generation of leaders to take the reins of the island nation.

In an effort to address the stagnating economic conditions that have burdened the country since the collapse of the Soviet Union, President Raúl unveiled reforms in 2010 aimed at moving the island’s outdated command economy toward a mixed economy with greater emphasis on market mechanisms and self-employment.

Cuban authorities have acknowledged the difficulties posed by maintaining massive subsidies across various sectors, and plan to transfer up to 40 percent of the workforce into the private sector by 2015, where workers will be expected to pay taxes on their income for the first time.

The state has laid off some 500,000 workers, in addition to eliminating more than 100,000 non-essential jobs in the nation’s national health service to cut costs. Havana has simultaneously relaxed prohibitions on small business activity and the individual hiring of labor. Former state-employees are now encouraged to start small businesses by driving taxis, opening barbershops, clothing shops and restaurants.

The state employs around 79 percent of the 5 million-strong labor force, while around 436,000 Cubans currently work in the private sector, according to government figures. Reforms are becoming bolder and Cuban politicians have recently approved a new law to draw in greater amounts of foreign investment, while tax-free special development zones have also been introduced. In these zones, foreign companies will be able to transfer their tariff-free profits abroad, receive contract extensions for up to 50 years, and retain full ownership entitlements, a drastic departure from decades of Soviet-style central planning.

Public health indicators suggest that Cuba has some of the highest quality health services in the developing world, which is provided to citizens free of charge. Despite a severe lack of resources due in part to decades of being under an economic embargo imposed by the United States, the country has one of the highest literacy rates in the world and free universal education for its citizens; it has also become one of the world’s leading exporters of teachers and doctors.

Cuban leaders have acknowledged how the country’s traditional state-run economic model can no longer support the across-the-board subsidies that fuel socialist programs and welfare services, giving rise to new legislation that would make the country much more reliant on market mechanisms and foreign capital.

Reagan’s ghost in Havana?

It may be seen as ironic that Cuba, with its history of sweeping nationalizations of corporations that dominated the economy before the revolution, is now sacking masses of state-sector workers and adopting a capital-friendly growth model intent on cutting down the public sector in favor of private enterprise and profit.

Cuba’s decision to break from its traditionally closed economy and toward a free market system with neoliberal characteristics is not a signal that the country plans to yield toward unhinged capitalism. In the view of pragmatic thinkers in the Communist Party, these reforms represent an attempt to update the economic model, allowing Cuba to define its own distinct system appropriate to modern developments and external circumstances.

In essence, the Cuban leadership is attempting to develop a different model of market-socialism better suited to advancing the ideals of the revolution: egalitarianism, social justice, and resistance to imperialism and US dominance. Cuban leaders have acknowledged the negative features of market reforms, which can often exacerbate income disparities and entrench cronyism, and have pledged to maintain its public health services, universal education systems, and other features that do not adhere to the ideology of free market capitalism.

Cuban workers will have three main avenues of employment to choose from. While the largest portion of workers will run small businesses and shops, the government has prioritized the agricultural sector to promote food self-sufficiency. The state subsidizes land, seeds, and chemical-free fertilizer for farmers and vegetable growers, and agricultural collectives are also seen as a viable career path.

Other workers will find employment in sectors that rely on foreign investment. Cuba’s newly-passed foreign investment law, which comes into effect in June, offers attractive incentives to foreign companies. Taxes on profits have been reduced from 30 to 15 percent, and companies will be exempt from paying taxes for the first eight years of operation; foreigners doing business on the island would be exempt from paying any personal income tax.

An exception remains for companies that exploit the country’s natural resources, such as nickel or fossil fuels, which will pay taxation rates as high as 50 percent. Foreign investment will reportedly be allowed in all sectors, however investment and marketization will be barred in all fields related to medical services, education and national defense to safeguard the country’s socialist system.

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Ending the embargo

The US unilaterally imposed a near-total embargo on Cuba in 1962 following the nationalization of properties belonging to US citizens and corporations, which remains in place to this day. Washington has kept Cuba on a list of ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ since 1982, while the embargo has been consistently strengthened under several US administrations despite the United Nations calling for its end for 22 consecutive years.

Cuban authorities claim that the economic damages accumulated after half a century as a result of the implementation of the blockade amount to $1.126 trillion, and President Raúl knows he needs erode the foundations of the embargo before significant economic growth can take place. Havana believes that getting the European Union into its corner is the best way to move forward, and negotiations with representatives from Brussels are set to begin in late April. Havana will try to overturn the EU’s ‘common position’ on Cuba enacted in December 1996, which calls for greater human rights and democratic conditions in exchange for improved economic relations.

The recent visit by French FM Laurent Fabius, the highest-ranking French official to visit the island in 31 years, should be seen in this context. According to diplomatic sources, Fabius was testing the waters prior to the negotiations with EU members.

France has interests in winning contracts in markets where French firms are traditionally weak, and understands the regional importance of Cuba as investment pours in from both Brazil and Mexico, who are increasing their presence in the country.

Normalizing trade relations with the EU would qualify as a major step forward toward bolstering foreign investment, but the alignment of business interests is not expected to have major reverberations on Havana’s positions on global political issues, where it is aligned closely to Russia and China.

On the eve of Fabius’ visit, state-owned media in Cuba published critical commentary of the French municipal elections, criticizing President François Hollande for doing “exactly the opposite” of what was promised during his election campaign, and for conciliating “the neoliberal demands of Berlin and Brussels.” The editorial could be seen as subtle way of the Communist Party reinforcing its political nonalignment, or as a way of deflecting criticism from hardliners who would prefer that Cuba maintains its distance from Western powers.

As more emphasis is placed on making Cuba an attractive destination for foreign investment, Europe is expected to become more vocal in supporting a change in US policy toward the island nation.

Cuba’s diversification of trade relations also comes at a time when the leftist government of Venezuela faces protests and serious economic difficulties. The leadership in Caracas supplies cheap oil to Cuba and also pays for Cuban doctors and other medical specialists sent to Venezuela, while some economists claim that Cuba receives over $6 billion per year from this arrangement, representing a more significant subsidy than that which the island received from the Soviet Union, which paid above-market prices for sugar and other goods.

If attempts to enact regime change in Venezuela are realized, it will have detrimental short-term effects on Cuba, which the leadership in Havana seems to be well aware of. Much like other socialist governments that survived the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba is now reforming its economy to conform to global capitalism, but unlike other countries that have empowered their oligarchical elite through marketization, leaders in Havana claim that the primary objective of attracting foreign capital is to support social programs, the socio-economic development of the country, and the distribution of wealth among all Cuban citizens.

Marketization may likely exacerbate income inequality and spur elite corruption in the early stages, and these negatives features of capitalism should be kept in check. If state-linked cronies are perceived as being the most advantaged by foreign investment without earnings being adequately channeled to social welfare programs and development, it will have negative political ramifications.

If the new economic system can be leveraged to maintain socialist benefits and bolster Cuba’s biotechnology, pharmaceutical and renewable energy sectors, the country may be in a position to assert its independence more effectively through a mixed-development model that can be replicated elsewhere.

* Nile Bowie is a political analyst and photographer currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
source: http://rt.com/op-edge/cuba-economic-reforms-market-852/,

Changes in relation Cuba-Europe? Cambios en relación Cuba-Europa?

February 11, 2014

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DECLARATION ISSUED BY THE DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF CUBA IN RESPONSE TO THE DECISION ADOPTED BY THE COUNCIL OF MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE EUROPEAN UNION ON MONDAY, FEBRUARY 10TH.

The Cuban Government has been officially informed of the decision adopted by the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the European Union to authorize the European Commission and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Her Excellency Catherine Ashton, to initiate negotiations on the provisions of an Agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation between the European Union and its member States, on one side, and the Republic of Cuba.
In October, 2008, the European Union and Cuba agreed to resume political dialogue and cooperation based on a reciprocal, unconditional and non-discriminatory approach, with full respect for the sovereign equality of States and the legal framework and institutional order of the Parties, in accordance with the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of States.
Cuba believes that these principles still are absolutely valid and should continue to be a benchmark in the relations between the European Union and our country.
I reiterate what was previously expressed in the long-lasting process of reflections and consultations among the European Union member States, which preceded these results. Cuba shall consider the invitation issued by the European side in a respectful and constructive way, in the context of its national sovereignty and interests.

Havana, February 10, 2014
“Year 56 of the Revolution”

DECLARACIÓN DEL VICEMINISTRO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES DE LA REPÚBLICA DE CUBA, ROGELIO SIERRA DÍAZ, ANTE LA DECISIÓN DEL CONSEJO DE MINISTROS DE ASUNTOS EXTERIORES DE LA UNIÓN EUROPEA DEL LUNES 10 DE FEBRERO.

El Gobierno cubano ha sido informado oficialmente sobre la decisión del Consejo de Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores de la Unión Europea autorizando a la Comisión Europea y a la Alta Representante para Asuntos Exteriores y Política de Seguridad, Su Excelencia Catherine Ashton, a iniciar negociaciones sobre las disposiciones de un Acuerdo de Diálogo Político y de Cooperación entre la Unión Europea y sus Estados Miembros, de una parte, y la República de Cuba.
En octubre de 2008, la Unión Europea y Cuba acordaron reiniciar el diálogo político y la cooperación sobre bases recíprocas, con carácter incondicional y no discriminatorio, con pleno respeto a la igualdad soberana de los Estados, al marco jurídico y al ordenamiento institucional de las Partes, y en total apego al principio de no injerencia en los asuntos internos de los Estados.
Cuba considera que esos principios mantienen plena vigencia y deben seguir siendo el referente en las relaciones entre la Unión Europea y nuestro país.
Reitero lo expresado durante el prolongado proceso de reflexión y consulta entre los Estados Miembros de la UE, que precedió este resultado. Cuba considerará la invitación formulada por la parte europea, de manera respetuosa, constructiva y apegada a su soberanía e intereses nacionales.

La Habana, 10 de febrero de 2014
“Año 56 de la Revolución”

Cuba dejará de ser una excepción en la política exterior europea. Los
ministros de Exteriores de la Unión Europea han dado este lunes un mandato a la
Comisión Europea para que empiece a negociar un acuerdo político con el
régimen de Raúl Castro, una medida que supone el inicio del deshielo de las
relaciones entre ambos territorios. Tras años de discusiones, los ministros
han aprobado por unanimidad el inicio de ese diálogo, que permite levantar
el veto que Bruselas impuso a Cuba en 1996 por iniciativa del Gobierno de
José María Aznar.
Con esa medida, el Ejecutivo comunitario podrá negociar abiertamente con
el régimen para firmar un acuerdo bilateral que regule el diálogo, los
acuerdos comerciales, la cooperación y cualquier otro elemento que interese a
ambas partes, según explican distintas fuentes diplomáticas. Hasta ahora, la
Unión Europea no tenía ningún canal de comunicación abierto con el Gobierno
cubano, pues se regía por la llamada posición común: una herramienta
diplomática que condicionaba cualquier viso de diálogo al avance de los derechos
humanos en la isla. En la práctica esto implicaba un bloqueo en las
relaciones entre Bruselas y La Habana desconocido en ningún otro Estado. Cuba es
el único país del mundo que se rige por la llamada posición común, explica
la Comisión Europea, un estigma que decaerá si la negociación llega a buen
puerto.
De momento, los países la mantienen a la espera de ver cómo se desarrollan
las negociaciones. Ha sido la garantía que han exigido algunos países
reacios a abrir el diálogo con la isla (entre ellos Alemania, República Checa y
Polonia) para dar su visto bueno al proceso. Estos países han exigido que
la Unión Europea supervise en todo momento el respeto que otorga Cuba a los
derechos humanos, un aspecto que la diplomacia europea elude concretar
para no dar pistas al régimen de cuáles son sus inquietudes. Los países
miembros supervisarán que haya medidas que favorezcan la libertad de expresión y
otras libertades fundamentales, que no se reprima a la oposición, que la
justicia sea independiente o que se garantice el acceso a Internet, entre
otros elementos.
Esa misma falta de concreción rige para el resto de elementos que se
negociarán con la isla. La Comisión mantendrá en secreto las directrices que
guiarán el diálogo, aunque fuentes diplomáticas apuntan genéricamente que se
trata de dar un marco de seguridad jurídica a las relaciones que los países
miembros quieran establecer con Cuba (y que muchos ya tienen aunque en
realidad contraviene la posición común). Con las señales de apertura que está
emitiendo el régimen, la UE no quiere quedar fuera de un territorio que le
puede proporcionar oportunidades de inversión beneficiosas para ambos.
También puede haber mejoras en relaciones comerciales, aunque es un
elemento de menor magnitud que la inversión. El acuerdo permitirá asimismo una
mayor cooperación europea con la isla, que ahora es casi testimonial. Desde
que se reanudó la cooperación, en 2008, Cuba ha recibido apenas 80 millones
de euros en total para proyectos de desarrollo, aseguran fuentes
comunitarias.
La negociación puede llevar alrededor de un año, según los cálculos
oficiosos, aunque los encargados de este proceso se muestran optimistas sobre el
desenlace. La Unión Europea ha intentado otras muchas veces en el pasado
romper el bloqueo que regía con Cuba, sin resultado. Nunca se llegó, como
ahora, a abrir un diálogo político amplio que tuviese como objetivo romper la
posición común fijada por el Gobierno de José María Aznar –y respaldada por
el resto- en 1996. Tras muchas rondas de discusión, los ministros de
Exteriores darán este lunes el visto bueno a esta medida sin debate previo.

EuroUnion OKs mandate to deal with Cuba

February 5, 2014

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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.

http://progresoweekly.us/20140205-eurounion-oks-mandate-deal-cuba/?utm_source=EuroUnion+OKs&utm_campaign=EuroUnion+Oks&utm_medium=email

Cuba Prepares for a Different Relationship with the European Union

January 21, 2014

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BRUSSELS, Belgium – After years of debate, the European Union is in the final stages of eliminating an existing agreement concerning Cuba and establishing a bilateral agreement with the island nation on several issues.
Earlier this month, Holland’s Foreign Minister, Franciscus ‘Frans’ Timmermans, urged the European Union to encourage more dialogue with Cuba while on a state visit to Havana. “We simply need more human contacts,” he said. “We have seen that not meeting each other and not talking about the issues that divide us does not really help. Dialogue could really bring the relationship forward.”

Now, it seems that the 28-member bloc is set to do just that as they seek to re-open dialogue with Cuba. The European Commission is set to rule in favor of opening formal dialogue with Raúl Castro’s administration in a vote later this quarter, with the eventual goal of having a new framework for relations by the beginning of 2015.

At the moment, Cuba is the only nation with which the EU does not have institutional ties. Rather, the relationship is guided by the “Common Position,” ratified in 1996.

The Common Position, is a policy approved by the European Council of Ministers in 1996. It was developed by the conservative government of José María Aznar, Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004 and member of the Partido Popular (People’s Party).

The policy maintains that the EU’s position on Cuba is one that encourages democracy and political pluralism on the island, with an emphasis on human rights. Until Cuba changes these policies, the EU’s stance is that the bloc will unilaterally stop all institutional dialogue with the country. Cuba rejects the Common Position as it equates the policy to an interference in Cuban internal affairs.

Given the failure of the Common Position in accomplishing any sort of diplomatic change, several EU member states have spoken out against the policy before. Those voices have multiplied as Castro has led a series of reforms on the island, mostly in the economic sector. Since coming to power, Raúl Castro’s administration has removed restrictions against the purchase of certain products previously deemed illegal, gave unused state-owned land to private farmers and farming cooperatives, eased travel restrictions and internet access, significantly reduced state spending, and encouraged many entrepreneurial initiatives.

Politically, the Fidel’s younger brother has also placed a limit on presidential terms and said that he would step down after his second term ends in 2018, giving Cuba its first non-Castro leader since the Revolution of 1959.

Given that the Common Policy is also applied by the EU to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and not a single other nation, the bloc has finally seen the light and turned the corner in the way it conducts its relationship with Cuba.

Although certain nations like the Czech Republic and Poland have presented the most opposition to normalizing relations with Cuba, they, too, have seemingly changed their tone. A spokesman for the head of the Czech representation in Brussels, Martin Povejšil, said that his nation “has no concerns about changing relations with Cuba as long as the mandate-included human rights issues are respected.”

In fact, an early ‘exploratory phase’ in normalizing relations has already began. In addition, the office of the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy in Brussels has said that the EU would be at a clear disadvantage if no ties were established when Cuba eventually did make a drastic transition.

For the time being, the Common Position will continue to govern the EU’s stance on Cuba and several EU officials have revealed that observers should ‘not get their hopes’ up as previous attempts to mend fences have failed. However, given the recent political and philosophical changes in Europe and Cuba, there should be no more interruptions as the new agreement is set to debut at the European Parliament in early February.

Regardless of any political tension, both sides have benefitted from economic ties.

The EU is the largest investor in Cuba and its second largest trading partner after Venezuela, while hundreds of thousands of EU residents flock to Cuba’s beaches every year, accounting for more than half of all visitors in the vital tourism sector.

source: InSerbia


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