Above: the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton (Photo: EU)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The European Union is looking to launch new political dialogue with Cuba, the European Council announced Monday.
The EC adopted new “negotiating directives” for a bilateral political dialogue and cooperation agreement with the Caribbean country.
The EU said a bilateral agreement would “strengthen the EU–Cuba relationship and provide a robust framework for constructive dialogue and improved co-operation.”
“I am confident these negotiations will help consolidate our engagement with Cuba,” said Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. “I hope Cuba will take up this offer, and that we can work soon towards a stronger relationship.”
The EU said a bilateral agreement would “help to effectively promote EU interests and values in Cuba and ensure continuity in EU policies objectives including support for the on-going reform and modernisation process, the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as the strengthening of development cooperation.”
“This is not a policy change from the past. Just as we want to support reform and modernization in Cuba, we have consistently raised human rights concerns which will remain at the core of this relationship,” Ashton said. “I also hope that Cuba will do what is necessary on its side, especially on the question of human rights. The pace of our negotiations will reflect this.”
The European Union resumed its official cooperation with Cuba in 2008, and the supranational body has committed millions to the country in areas like climate change, food security and renewable energy.
The EU is Cuba’s second most important trading partner and the second biggest source of Cuban imports.