Statement to the press by Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, at the 7th Ministerial Political Dialogue session between Cuba and the European Union, March 11, 2016, “Year 58 of the Revolution.”
(European Union External Action)
Federica Mogherini.—I am here to celebrate a historic step in our relations.
Cuba and the European Union have concluded their negotiations for a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA). The PDCA will mark the beginning of a new phase of the bilateral relations. This contractual arrangement is a landmark demonstration of the improved mutual trust and understanding between us. It creates a clear framework for intensified political dialogue, and a platform for developing joint action and cooperation on global matters in multinational fora.
The PDCA will also generate new opportunities for bilateral cooperation, both technical and financial and policy dialogues in many sectors, and to boost economic cooperation and exchanges between Cuba and the EU.
The end of negotiations and upcoming signature of the Agreement mark the end of the EU’s 1996 Common Position as the Union’s instrument defining its external relations with Cuba. This unilateral policy had already envisaged the perspective of a contractual arrangement and will now be superseded by the PDCA.
I will propose a Council decision to repeal it formally, in parallel to the processes leading to the signature of the agreement.
Both Cuba and the EU will now work, with their respective stakeholders and through their corresponding internal processes to ensure a swift signature and ratification of the agreement.
We are excited about the prospect of turning the PDCA into reality and achieve its objectives: enhancing EU-Cuba relations, promoting dialogue and cooperation to foster sustainable development, democracy and human rights, accompanying the process of “updating” the Cuban economy and society and finding common solutions to global challenges.
During my visit, I have held with Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla our second formal political dialogue meeting. This is an important opportunity to exchange views, develop a better understanding for each other, and enabling us to find common solutions to issues of mutual interest.
We have addressed our bilateral relations, regional issues in the Cuban and EU vicinity and global matters of mutual concern, such as migration.
Regarding bilateral relations, we have spoken about the situation in the EU, confronted with economic challenges, instability and violence in our closest neighbourhood, the refugee crisis and the fight against terrorism.
And we have also talked about the situation in Cuba, the difficult economic situation and the modernisation process it is facing.
We have addressed the Cuba-US opening process, and the many opportunities and challenges involved. We agree that the US embargo is completely obsolete and outdated. Now the priorities are dialogue and cooperation, and the embargo is an obstacle which has to end. Its extraterritorial effects are illegal. The EU position is clear: we don’t accept that EU companies are penalised. We will work with determination to put an end to this issue which affects economic activity and development. Both Cuba and EU will work with the US to push for an end of these measures, which cause undue harm to Cuban people and society.
Concerning international relations, we spoke about international crises, such as the Middle East, as well as issues in the America region.
I congratulated Cuba for the facilitation of the Colombian peace process hosted here in Havana. We also spoke about the developments in Venezuela, where we hope for a constructive dialogue necessary to address the deteriorating political deadlock, economic and security situation.
A year ago, FM Rodriguez and I agreed on launching a dedicated Human Rights dialogue to exchange views on this important and sensitive area. We wanted to develop our mutual understanding, and sound out possibilities for cooperation. This is destined to become an important part of the new PDCA framework.
A first meeting was held in Brussels in June 2015, under the leadership of EUSR for Human Rights Lambrinidis. It was a very constructive encounter and we had frank exchanges, on the concepts of HR, on the respective situation and recent developments in the EU and Cuba; respectful of the sovereignty of each other but mindful of the universality of human rights.
We are now preparing for a second meeting of this Human Rights dialogue and we hope that it will take place in Cuba in the coming months.
During my last visit, we signed the EU’s Multi-annual Indicative Programme for Cuba with an allocation of € 50 million for the period of 2014-2020. This is another important EU contribution strengthening EU-Cuba relations and supporting the development of the island.
The MIP underpins the economic and social modernisation strategy adopted the Cuban government: a sustainable, more productive agriculture sector, a better use of key natural resources, in particular renewable energies and water, as well as an updated economic and societal model.
In the meantime, project of 8 million EUR is implemented. We will continue our support to the tax administration, to facilitate Cuban trade with the EU and the world, but we have extended the offer of experts’ exchanges to other Ministries, like the Ministries of Labor and Justice.
In the energy sector, a stocktaking mission of EU experts took place in January to identify strategic areas, where EU transfer of experience and know how would have the greatest impact and leverage to boost transformation of the Cuban energy sector.
I look forward to continuing our engagement with a view to supporting Cuba’s sustainable socio-economic development and ensuring better opportunities for all in Cuba (Applause).