Friday

6th Dec 2019

EU hails 'substantial progress' towards Cuba trade deal

  • EU and Cuban officials will reconvene in Havana for the next round of talks on a trade and human rights accord. (Photo: Frans Persoon)

EU and Cuban officials have made “substantial progress” towards agreeing a trade and political co-operation treaty, the bloc’s top diplomat to Havana said following the second round of talks in Brussels.

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday (28 August) following two days of talks, Christian Leffler, who heads the EU’s external action service in the Americas, added that negotiators would discuss "more sensitive political questions," when they reconvene for the next round to be held in Havana later this year.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Diplomats opened talks on a ‘Political dialogue and co-operation” agreement in April. EU-Cuban cooperation, political and institutional matters in Cuba, and trade relations are the three key elements of the talks.

“The Cuban side is clear and in agreement that the accord must facilitate cooperation among all the actors of Cuba and the EU, including civil society," noted Leffler.

He added that the EU team had made their first presentation on what the main areas of trade co-operation and investment facilitation should be.

The EU froze its diplomatic relations with Havana in 2003 after Cuban authorities threw 75 dissidents in jail but provided aid and emergency support worth over €80 million in response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Unlike the United States, the EU has not imposed restrictions on its trade with Cuba, but it is the only Latin American country with which Brussels does not have a bilateral accord.

Despite limited access between their markets, the EU is Cuba's second-biggest trading partner after Venezuela, accounting for 20 percent of total Cuban trade. Meanwhile, more than half of the EU’s member states already have bilateral trade agreements with Havana.

In return for better trade links, the EU is demanding that Raul Castro’s regime improves its human rights record.

For their part, the Cuban government stated in a communiqué that the talks had "developed in a constructive manner."

The two sides are hoping to clinch a deal by the end of 2015.

EU to open trade talks with Cuba

EU foreign ministers have agreed to open talks on a trade and political relationship with Cuba, raising the prospect of a new era in relations between Brussels and Havana.

Ashton to explore closer ties with Cuba

EU foreign ministers have asked the bloc's top diplomat Catherine Ashton to explore the possibility of closer ties with Cuba, but rejected calls to lift the EU's common position.

EU welcomes thaw in US-Cuba relations

The European Union has welcomed the agreement between US and Cuba to re-establish diplomatic relations, a move which matches with its own approach to Cuba.

Commission won't call Castro a dictator

The EU executive says that a statement decribing the former Cuban leader as a "hero for many" is balanced and suggests that the use of the word dictator by a commissioner doesn't reflect its position.

Stakeholder

EU-Cuba agreement: A path to human rights and democracy?

The ALDE group recently hosted a conference to discuss the EU-Cuba agreement and Cuba's path towards human rights and democracy. Civil society representatives from Cuba said the agreement failed to consult the people.

Magazine

Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy

The European Parliament's civil liberties committee offers a snapshot of the European "state of mind", says its chair Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar. Its biggest challenge will be getting member states to unblock the EU asylum package.

This is the (finally) approved European Commission

MEPs gave the green light to the entire new European Commission during the plenary session in Strasbourg - but with the abstention of the Greens and a rejection by the leftist group GUE/NGL.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  2. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  3. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  4. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  5. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate
  6. Development to fuel change
  7. Does EU have role in stopping backsliding in Georgia?
  8. Swedish candidate adds heat to EU ombudsman vote

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us