The European Union and Cuba established diplomatic relations in 1988. An EU representation office was opened in Havana in 2003, and upgraded into a fully-fledged Delegation in 2008. All 28 EU Member States maintain bilateral diplomatic relations with Cuba. The European Union’s relations with Cuba were then formally governed by the EU Common Position adopted in 1996.
On 21 September 2016, the European Commission adopted a proposal to the Council on the signing of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) with Cuba. At the same time, the High Representative Federica Mogherini transmitted a proposal to the Council to formally repeal the EU's 1996 Common Position on Cuba. On 12 December 2016 the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) was signed and on 5 July 2017 the European Parliament backed it, opening a new phase in the bilateral relations between EU and Cuba.
EU-Cuba negotiations towards a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement
The EU and Cuba launched negotiations for a bilateral Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) in April 2014. The talks were concluded and the agreement initialled in Havana on 11 March 2016. The formal signature ceremony took place on 12 December 2016 in Brussels.
The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, said: ‘The agreement will help us to fully take advantage of the potential of our friendship. It creates a framework for even stronger political dialogue, for new sector policy dialogues, and for broadening and deepening cooperation on a wide range of issues’.
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.
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 economy and society.
With the vote in favor of 567 MEPs, 65 against and 31 abstentions, the agreement was backed by the European Parliament on 5 July 2017. Following this step, and once the EU and Cuba conclude with their respective internal procedures, provisional implementation may start; while ratification of the national parliaments of the Member States and of the Cuban National Assembly will continue to be developed in parallel.
The PDCA is the Union's instrument defining its external relations with Cuba offering a comprehensive framework, which also complements and supports those developed by a number of EU Member States.
Regular high-level political dialogue meetings were started in 2008, 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 such formal dialogue meeting, after Brussels in April 2015.
Political relations between the European Union (EU) and Cuba are further defined in the PDCA. The objectives are to promote exchanges of views and information, to increase mutual understanding and to discuss positions in international fora with a view to defining common approaches. Both sides 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).