The High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union, Federica Mogherini, received in Havana by the Foreign Minister of Cuba, Bruno Rodríguez, on January 4, 2018
The European Union (EU) and Cuba will sign on Tuesday an agreement to promote renewable energy on the island, the first after the normalization of diplomatic relations, which are determined to deepen independently of Washington.
“The EU-Cuba agreement lays the foundations for a coherent and reliable collaboration with Cuba and its people,” Federica Mogherini, head of European diplomacy, said in a statement one day before the first Joint Council in Brussels with her Cuban counterpart, Bruno Rodríguez
Brussels and Havana began a new stage in their relations on November 1 with the entry into force of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, whose signing months earlier ended the so-called Common Position of 1996 that limited cooperation to advances in rights humans.
This normalization occurred in full change of winds in Washington. After the approach of US President Barack Obama, his successor in the White House, Donald Trump, stalled the thaw with the authorities of the island on which weighs a US embargo since 1962.
The appointment on April 19 of Miguel Diaz-Canel as Cuban president, following the governments of Fidel and Raúl Castro, did not change the position of Washington, which reiterated its priority to liberate Cuba, where the “legacy of tyranny” of the leaders continues of the communist revolution of 1959.
The EU, which also faces Trump’s diplomatic allegations on the issue of the Iranian nuclear agreement, opts to maintain its strategy of dialogue with the authorities as “the best way to accompany the changes in Cuba,” a senior European official told AFP. .
“There are symbolic changes, for the first time, we have a president who did not participate in the revolution, who is not a military,” but “it takes time to measure the impact this will have on the country’s political line,” said the source. who asked for anonymity
– International investments –
The Europeans hope that their economic cooperation with the island will improve the lives of Cubans and thus lay the foundations for greater political openness in the Latin American country, where the Communist Party (PCC, only), with Raúl Castro in front until 2021, represents the nucleus of Cuban power.
“The isolation has never served to encourage a positive evolution,” said the head of European diplomacy in March, during a debate in the European Parliament on the preparation of the first Joint Council, defending the European thaw against the US blockade in Cuba.
The EU seeks to translate its cooperation strategy with the signing at 5:45 pm (1545 GMT) of a bilateral program with the Cuban chancellor to promote renewable energy in Cuba for 18 million euros (21.5 million dollars).
For the European Commissioner for Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, the bloc thus supports Cuba “in its ambitious goal of obtaining a quarter of energy mix of renewable energy by 2030” with this program, which will help “attract international investment.”
The Europeans also foresee to finance, from the end of the year, a support program for climate-resistant and sustainable food security in Cuba, with a contribution of 19.65 million euros (23.5 million dollars).
– Five dialogues –
The president of Cuba, Miguel Diaz-Canel (i), listens to his predecessor, Raúl Castro, during an event in Havana on May 1, 2018
The island is currently working to update its Soviet-style economic model, a plan that includes greater openness to foreign investments and the promotion of private businesses.
The 28 EU countries are the main foreign investor in Cuba (mainly in the sectors of tourism and construction), according to the European Commission, which also figures in 471 million euros imports of Cuban goods in 2017 and 2.094 million exports to the island.
Along with economic cooperation, Havana and Brussels also plan to launch five dialogues on sustainable development, non-proliferation, arms control, human rights and unilateral measures. This last section will address Washington’s embargo on the island.
The issue of political freedom and human rights on the island, which has already been addressed in three separate dialogues between Brussels and Havana, is also a priority for European diplomacy, which faces strong pressure from the conservative and liberal groups in the European Parliament. .
The diplomatic agreement, ratified at the moment by 13 of the 28 EU countries for its full and final implementation, contemplates the possibility of suspending it in case of a serious violation of human rights commitments.