EU Seeks Better Relations with Cuba

EU and Cuban flags. Graphic:

HAVANA TIMES — The European Union (EU) will look to strengthen relations with Cuba, said a  senior official referring to the document expected to be approved next week by the foreign ministers in Brussels, reported dpa news.

The decision could open a new chapter in relations between Cuba and the EU bloc, after the island began a process of gradual reforms since Raul Castro took over replacing his brother Fidel in 2008.

Under the new policies, the EU hopes to support political changes and “encourage greater respect for fundamental freedoms and human rights” on the island, an official said today.

The signing will not increase EU assistance to Cuba nor require specific reforms, but will aim to put the relationship in a more stable framework, stipulating, for example, meeting regularly to discuss issues relating to human rights or climate change, said the dpa source.

At present, the EU relationship with Cuba is handled based on a “common position” agreed in 1996.

It is expected that the EU foreign ministers sign the new document next Monday.

The EU bloc says it is the largest trading partner of the island, in addition to its biggest foreign investor, and provides about a third of the tourists traveling to Cuba.