Delegation of the European Union to Cuba

Cuba and the EU

27/10/2017 - 13:57
EU relations with Country

Relations between the European Union (EU) and Cuba are based on a political dialogue that promotes cooperation, respect for human rights and modernisation of the Cuban economy, and on the development of joint responses to global challenges.

The past years have seen significant progress in the diplomatic relations between the European Union and Cuba, and the 1 November 2017 finally marks the start of a new chapter: the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) starts applying provisionally, thereby opening the way for enhanced collaboration to the benefit of the Cuban and European people.

Between 1996 and 2016, the diplomatic relations between Cuba and the EU – first established in 1988 – were limited by the so-called Common Position. In an effort to update EU-Cuba relations, the EU re-launched a dialogue at political level in 2008, complemented by development assistance. On 12 December 2016, the repeal of the Common Position and the signature of the PDCA between the EU and Cuba set the stage for a new impetus in EU-Cuba relations.


Negotiations for the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) were launched in April 2014 and concluded on 11 March 2016. After the approval by the Council of the European Union, it was officially signed on 12 December 2016. In parallel, the agreement was submitted to the EU Member States' national parliaments and the Cuban National Assembly for ratification. The European Parliament gave its consent on 5 July 2017. Most parts of the agreement start to be provisionally applied as of 1 November 2017.


The PDCA creates an enabling framework for enhanced political dialogue, for improved bilateral cooperation, as well as for developing joint action in multilateral fora. It defines general principles and objectives for the relationship between the EU and Cuba and includes three main chapters on:

- Political dialogue, addressing issues, such as human rights, small arms and disarmament, migration, drugs, fight against terrorism, sustainable development, etc.;

- Cooperation and sector policy dialogue, including areas, such as human rights, governance, civil society, social and economic development, environment as well as regional cooperation;

- Trade and trade cooperation, dealing with principles of international trade and covering cooperation on customs, trade facilitation, technical norms and standards, sustainable trade and investment.

The agreement provides a framework for accompanying the reform process in Cuba.


High-level political dialogue meetings were launched in 2008, in parallel with EU cooperation. Since then, both sides have discussed 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. The EU and Cuba seek to strengthen the United Nations as the core of the multilateral system, and to promote the strategic partnership between the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). The first chapter of the PDCA foresees regular high level political dialogue meetings.

All 28 EU Member States maintain bilateral diplomatic relations with Cuba. An EU representation office was opened in Havana in 2003, and upgraded into a fully-fledged EU Delegation in 2008.

The EU and Cuba established a regular informal human rights dialogue, launched in 2015 by the High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini and Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez, in anticipation of the end of Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) negotiations. Three high-level dialogues were held during this period, in June 2015 in Brussels, in June 2016 in Havana, and in May 2017 again in Brussels, co-chaired by the EU's Special Representative for Human Rights.

The PDCA, which would start to be provisionally applied as of 1 November 2017, includes provisions to establish a formal basis for this dialogue, which allows both parties to exchange views on basic principles of human rights and address mutual concerns. In this framework, on October 9, 2018, the European Union and Cuba held their fourth dialogue on human rights in Havana, the first officially held under the PDCA. It was also the first one in a series of political dialogues agreed on May 15, 2018 at the meeting of the EU-Cuba Joint Council. Thus, to date, three formal dialogues on human rights have been held under the PDCA: October 9, 2018 (Havana), October 3, 2019 (Brussels) and February 26, 2021 (by videoconference).

One of the objectives of the dialogue is to identify areas to cooperate or share best practices in this area. Apart from the annual human rights dialogues, there are regular exchanges between the EU and Cuba on democracy and human rights issues.



The EU remains Cuba's main export and trade partner. The EU is also the biggest foreign investor in Cuba (mainly in the sectors of tourism, construction, light and agro-industries) and accounts for a third of the arriving tourists.

In 2020, exports in goods to Cuba were worth €1.463 billion, and imports amounting to €0.363 billion. Cuba's main export goods are agricultural products, beverages and tobacco and mineral fuels for which there is no preferential trade regime.

The main export goods from the EU to Cuba are food, chemical industry products, plastics, basic metals and their manufactures, machinery, household appliences and transport equipment.

The aim of the PDCA is to create a more predictable and transparent atmosphere for economic operators and increase their economic capacity to produce, trade and create jobs, but it does not establish a free trade area between the parties or cover investment protection.

The EU advocates diversification of exports from Cuba beyond the traditional products, and cooperates to disseminate the necessary knowledge among Cuban exporters to improve the access of goods onto the EU market.

Desde 1988 la Unión Europea ha financiado con unos 400 millones más de 250 proyectos de cooperación en el país. En la actualidad hay en curso unos 70 proyectos por un valor de 140 millones, más del triple de la media durante la década pasada.

En los primeros veinte años dicha cooperación se destinó fundamentalmente a proyectos de emergencias, en respuesta a huracanes, gestionados por la Dirección General de Pro­tección Civil y Operaciones de Ayuda Humanitaria Europeas (ECHO). Desde 1994, ECHO ha financiado acciones de ayuda humanitaria equivalentes a cerca de  110 millones. Esta colaboración ha permitido cubrir las necesidades de las per­sonas afectadas por desastres.

En 2008 se programó la primera estrategia de cooperación bilateral, antecesora de la estrategia 2014-2020, en la que se priorizaron los sectores de agricultura sostenible y seguridad alimentaria, energía renovable y cam­bio climático, y modernización de la economía. Recientemente la Comisión ha aprobado la estrategia 2017-2021, con un presupuesto para su primera fase 2021-2023 de 91 millones, orientada a cooperar en municipios sostenibles y en la modernización de la economía, ésta última enfocada en la promoción de PYMEs, el fortalecimiento de la administración pública y la cooperación en biotecnología.

Asimismo, la UE tiene como ejes transversales en su coo­peración el enfoque de derechos y la equidad de género, al igual que una estrategia de fortalecimiento de la sociedad civil, en especial a través de proyectos de cultura e inclusión social.

Además de los programas bilaterales, regionales y temáticos, Cuba se beneficia de su participación en los orientados a la educación superior (Erasmus+) y la investigación (Horizon­te Europa).

En esta publicación se ofrece más información sobre la cooperación UE-Cuba en la actualidad:

Cooperación Unión Europea-Cuba - Contribuyendo a la agenda 2030 para el desarrollo sostenible

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