On 29 April 2014, Cuba and the EU opened negotiations on a bilateral agreement on Political Dialogue and Cooperation, in Havana. The start of the negotiations represents an important step towards a strengthened relationship.
To launch the first negotiation session on 29-30 April EEAS Managing Director for the Americas, Mr Christian Leffler met with Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr Abelardo Moreno in Havana. The talks focused on establishing modalities and a roadmap for negotiations. An understanding was also reached on the overall structure of the agreement, after which the parties held a first exchange of views on the main chapters and elements.
The start of the negotiations is an important step towards a strengthened relationship between the EU and Cuba. By forging this agreement, the EU intends to accompany Cuba in the ongoing process of change and modernization by providing a stronger framework for political dialogue and improved cooperation. The defence and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms remain central to the relationship.
The talks on a bilateral agreement started following the decision by the EU Foreign Affairs Council, on 10 February 2014, to extend an invitation to the Republic of Cuba to start negotiations for a future bilateral agreement.
Welcoming the decision, High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton said: "I am confident these negotiations will help consolidate our engagement with Cuba. I hope Cuba will take up this offer, and that we can work soon towards a stronger relationship. 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."
Since 2008, the Commission has committed around € 60 million for cooperation on post-hurricane reconstruction and rehabilitation, food security, climate change and renewable energy, culture, and education. Cuba also takes part in several EU-funded regional programmes. The first Country Strategy Paper/National Indicative Programme for Cuba was adopted on 12 May 2010 making available € 20 million between 2011 and 2013 for food security, climate change adaptation, and expertise exchanges. The EU has adopted decisions allocating € 4 million to support the population affected by Hurricane Sandy in November 2012.
The EU is Cuba's second most important trading partner (accounting for 20% of total Cuban trade). The EU is the second biggest source of Cuban imports (20%) and was the third most important destination for Cuban exports (21%). The EU is Cuba's biggest external investor. Approximately one third of all tourists visiting the island every year come from the EU.
The next negotiation session will take place in Brussels, at a date to be mutually agreed.