The EU and Cuba have concluded their negotiations for a bilateral Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) on 11 March 2016. The agreement includes three main chapters on political dialogue, cooperation and sector policy dialogue as well as trade and trade cooperation. The PDCA will contribute to enhancing EU-Cuba relations, accompanying the process of "updating" the Cuban economy and society, promoting dialogue and cooperation to foster sustainable development, democracy and human rights, and finding common solutions to global challenges.
Negotiating Directives were adopted by the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 February 2014. Negotiations towards a bilateral Political Dialogue and Cooperation agreement started in April 2014. The negotiations were completed after seven negotiating rounds in March 2016. The text was initialled on March, 11 in the presence of the HRVP. 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, possibly towards the end of 2016.
The agreement reflects the expansion and strengthening of EU-Cuba relations, building on the important progress made since the relaunch of political dialogue and cooperation in 2008. It offers a framework for promoting European values and interests and accompanying the ongoing process of change in Cuban.
With the signature of the Agreement, this will become the Union's instrument defining its external relations with Cuba, superseding the 1996 Common Position. It offers a comprehensive framework which also complements and supports those developed by a number of EU Member States.
High-level political dialogue meetings were launched in 2008, concomitantly with EU cooperation, and initially conducted by the rotating EU Presidencies.
The seventh formal political dialogue meeting took place on 11 April 2016 in Havana between HRVP Mogherini and Minister Rodriguez. This was their second formal dialogue meeting, after a first encounter in Brussels in April 2015. Both sides discussed their bilateral relations, regional issues in the Cuban and EU vicinity and global matters of mutual concern, such as migration and international terrorism, with a view to defining potential areas of cooperation.
Trade relations / Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows
The EU remains Cuba's main export and second trade partner (after Venezuela). Its main export goods are mineral fuels and mineral oils, sugars, beverages and tobacco. In 2015, Cuba exported to the EU goods for a total amount of EUR 540 million, after EUR 465 million in 2014. As a result of the EU's GSP reform in January 2014, Cuba lost its trade preferences for exports to the EU. This had an impact on their tobacco exports, mainly, for which the customs duty increased considerably. The EU exported to Cuba goods for an amount of EUR 1.600 million in 2014 (mainly machinery), corresponding to 0,1% of total EU trade. The PDCA mainly aims to create a more predictable, transparent environment for economic operators, and to increase the capacity of economic operators to produce and trade, but does not establish a free trade area between the parties, nor does it cover investment protection.
The EU is also the biggest foreign investor in Cuba (mainly tourism, construction, light and agro-industries) and accounts for a third of the arriving tourists.
EU-Cuba development cooperation
Bilateral development cooperation resumed in 2008, and between then and 2014, the EU committed around EUR 90M in the fields of food security; hurricane response and disaster preparedness; environment; climate change and energy; culture and heritage; support to economic and social modernisation and management capacities. Cuba also participates in EU regional programmes for Latin America for student exchange (e.g. ERASMUS Mundus), cooperation on drugs policies, also on environment and climate change.
Moreover, €50 million have been allocated for the period 2014-2020 to support the development of the island by promoting sustainable agriculture and food security; environment; and support to economic and social modernisation. Only last year the EU has committed €10 million in this respect.
Example of a EU funded programme: the “Expertise Exchange Programme” (with a budget of € 3.5 million, period of implementation: 2014-2017) has supported over 80 activities involving more than 1200 Cuban public officials and more than 50 experts and/or public servants from Europe and other countries in the areas of Decentralisation, Public Policies, Tax Administration, Foreign Investment and External Trade contributing to the 2030 Cuban Development Strategy and accompanying the process of "updating" the Cuban economy and society.