Friday, April 11, 2014

EU/Cuba: EU, Cuba Poised to Reach Political, Cooperative Accord in Late April

According to EFE, the European Union (EU) and Cuba will hold the first round of negotiations to reach a political and cooperation accord on April 29-30 in Havana, EU sources said on Tuesday (April 8).

This first session will focus primarily on “establishing the methods and a road map for the negotiations,” one official said.

Cuba will be represented by Deputy Foreign Minister Abelardo Moreno, while the EU’s top diplomat for the Americas, Christian Leffler, is to attend on behalf of the 28-member bloc.

EU foreign ministers approved on February 10 a mandate to begin negotiating the first framework accord with Havana.

COMMENT: Seemingly, at first blush, negotiations between Havana and the EU seem to be somewhat ill-defined, although it is helpful to know that over 50% of the EU have already engaged in bilateral relations with Cuba, presumably due to the trade opportunities available to them.

The EU and Cuba hope to hold a round of discussions every two months, between which they will maintain informal contacts, Leffler told the European Parliament last month.

The goal of the accord that the EU seeks with Cuba “is not fundamentally” to change the EU's policy toward the island, which will retain its existing objectives of defending and promoting human rights and encouraging democratic changes, but to find a different “focus,” Leffler said in March.

Negotiations will unfold with the “common position” in effect, the unilateral and restrictive policy that has governed EU relations with Havana since 1996.

Leffler noted last month that more than half the 28 EU member-states have already signed bilateral pacts with Havana, the reason why Brussels now wants, by means of an European accord, “to make the EU’s view of Cuba more coherent.”

This report will be updated as new information becomes available.