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. (here)
The EU's Press Release announced the visit this way:
The High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini will travel to Cuba on 3-4 January, reconfirming the strong EU-Cuban relationship. During her visit, she will meet with government representatives, with a view to an ambitious and swift joint implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) between the EU and Cuba. Together with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla she will also prepare for the first EU-Cuba Joint Council meeting at ministerial level within the framework of the PDCA.
The Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement entered into provisional application on 1 November 2017. This landmark agreement – the first ever between the EU and Cuba – constitutes the new legal framework for EU-Cuba relations. It foresees an enhanced political dialogue, improved bilateral cooperation and the development of joint action in multilateral fora.
The PDCA binds the EU other than potentially the UK and or Ireland (PDCA, CU/EU/en 9). The General Principles (Article 1) reaffirm general commitments to a set of ambiguous concepts: multilateralism, respect for international law and the principles of the U.N. Charter, the principles of equality, reciprocity and mutual respect, and to the promotion of sustainable development. (Art. 1 ¶¶1-2, 4). Of course these are likely understood in almost diametrically different ways by the EU and Cuba but it provides sufficient cover for moving forward along pragmatic lines without losing face. That fig leaf is made clear by the agreement that implementation of PDCA would be undertaken "in accordance with their respective constitutional principles, legal frameworks, legislation, norms and regulations, as well as the applicable international instruments to which they are parties." (Art. 1 ¶ 3). Complicating these initial principles are declarations of "respect for and the promotion of democratic principles, respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms laid down in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the core international human-rights instruments and their optional protocols which are applicable to the Parties, and respect for the rule of law." (Art. 1 ¶5). But this is limited both by the provisions of ¶¶ 1-2 as well as by the provisions of ¶ 6 in which both sides "recognise that all peoples have the right to freely determine their political system and to freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development." (Art. 1, ¶ 6). Taken together these Principles balance nicely the political needs of the EU and Cuba in a way that recognizes both but permits each to ignore the contradictions of their respective positions applied to the condition of the other.
Within the framework of the overall political dialogue, the Parties agree to establish a human rights dialogue, with a view to enhancing practical cooperation between the Parties at both multilateral and bilateral level. The agenda for each dialogue session shall be agreed by the parties, reflect their respective interests and take care to address in a balanced fashion civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights.
The Parties recognise the potential contribution of civil society, including academia, think tanks and media, to the fulfilment of the objectives of this Agreement. They agree to promote actions in support of greater civil-society participation in the formulation and implementation of relevant development and sectoral cooperation activities, including through capacity-building.
Mindful that the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms is the first responsibility of governments, bearing in mind the significance of national and regional particularities and of various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds and acknowledging that it is their duty to protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, the Parties agree to cooperate in the area of democracy and human rights.
The Parties agree to promote and encourage cooperation between institutions, including sector-based institutions, that promote instruments to support SMEs, particularly those whose efforts are aimed at improving competitiveness, technological innovation, integration in value chains, access to credit and training as well as strengthening the institutional capacity and institutional framework. They also agree to promote contacts between companies from both Parties to support their insertion into international markets, investments and technology transfer.
Part IV Title II, then focuses on trade related cooperation. These include customs (Art. 71), and administrative measures around trade facilitation (Art. 72). These later commitments will pose something of a challenge for both the rules rigid EU and the sometimes heavy handed administrative control cultures of Cuba. But it is the thought that counts and many of these measures are written as inspirational goals rather than as implementable measures. Protection of intellectual property is the focus of Article 73, which itself can pose problems given the messiness on that score that was generated after the 1959 Revolution. Going forward deals, on the other hand may be easier. Capacity building is an important focus on measures regarding cooperation on technical barriers to trade (Art. 74) and trade defense (Art. 78). Increasing trade in agricultural products is the core of the provisions around food safety and animals welfare (Art. 75) with a similar objective for trade in traditional and artisanal goods--from both sides (Art. 76) though in the absence of strong consumer markets in Cuba it is hard to see how this flows any way but out of Cuba and into the hands of wealthy European consumers. A sustainable development chapeau is also provided (Art. 76). The EU secured recognition of the importance (to it) of protection of rules of origin (Art. 79) and both parties pledged greater and better coordinated mutual investment (Art. 80).
All of these aspirations have to be institutionalized somehow and Part V serves to memorialize these new institutional structures. Given the heavily bureaucratized cultures of the EU and of Cuba it comes as no surprise that
A Joint Council is hereby established. It shall oversee the fulfilment of the objectives of this Agreement and supervise its implementation. It shall meet at ministerial level at regular intervals, not exceeding a period of two years, and extraordinarily whenever circumstances so require, if the Parties so agree. (Art. 81 ¶ 1)
But Cuba and the Europeans have been down this road before. It is far too early to determine whether this time there will be greater success over the long term than in the past. Given the potential instability of the beginning of the transition era, it is likely that success will have to target very long term targets.
European Union diplomat visits Cuba to strengthen ties
By Marc Frank
Reuters Jan. 3, 2018
HAVANA, Jan 3 (Reuters) - The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini arrived in Cuba on Wednesday to help strengthen member countries' economic and political ties with the Communist-run island.
Mogherini’s visit “reconfirms the strong EU-Cuban relationship,” and she will press for an “ambitious and swift joint implementation of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement,” the EU said in a statement.
As the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement unfolded in 2015-2016 the EU dropped all sanctions and negotiated the agreement, the first accord between Cuba and the 28-nation bloc.
Signed in December 2016 and ratified in November, the EU said at the time that it hoped to position its companies for Cuba’s transition to a more open economy and allow it to press for political freedoms on the island.
Mogherini’s visit contrasts with the Trump administration’s partial rollback of a fragile detente between the old Cold War foes begun by former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Her first official meeting on the two-day visit was with Foreign Investment and Cooperation Minister Rodrigo Malmierca.
She was also scheduled to meet with the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Archbishop Giorgorio Lingua, and Cuban Foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez on Thursday.
“Cuba's weak economy has been battered by the collapse in Venezuela, making it more vulnerable and open to foreign capital. Europe is seizing the moment,” Economist Andrew Zimbalist, a Cuba expert at Smith College in the United States, said.
Cuba faces a host of challenges, including declining aid from socialist ally Venezuela. Last month it extended the term of its current leadership to April, signaling a two-month delay in the historic handover from Raul Castro to a new president, while announcing tighter regulations on the non-state sector. (Full Story)
The official Juventud Rebelde newspaper reported on Wednesday that the EU is the most important exporter and second trading partner of Cuba, and also the most important donor of cooperation and foreign investment.
(Reporting by Marc Frank; Editing by Susan Thomas)
HAVANA (Reuters) - The European Union’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini met Cuban President Raul Castro on Thursday as she ended a two-day visit to the Communist country aimed at strengthening engagement even as the Trump administration backtracks on a fragile detente.
Cuban state-run television broadcast footage of the meeting and said it covered the favorable state of relations between the EU and Havana and international issues.
At a press conference earlier in the day, Mogherini said that EU member countries combined were now Cuba’s most important economic partner and announced a series of agreements.
As the U.S.-Cuba rapprochement unfolded in 2015-2016 the EU dropped all sanctions and negotiated a political dialogue and cooperation agreement, the first between Cuba and the EU.
Mogherini told journalists before meeting Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez on Thursday morning that the agreement also provided new potential in trade and investment.
“The EU has become Cuba’s first trade partner and was already the first in investment and development cooperation ... which means it is possible to increase the level of economic relations and investments,” she said before meeting Castro.
Mogherini said a delegation from the European Investment Bank would visit Cuba later this month.
She said cooperation agreements in renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, culture and expertise valued at 49 million euros ($59.1 million) would be signed shortly.
In February, Mogherini will preside with Rodriguez in Brussels over the first joint cooperation meeting between the EU and Cuba, she said.
During her visit she repeatedly criticized the U.S. trade embargo and said she regretted “that the current U.S. administration has apparently changed course with Cuba.”
Diplomats said the EU appeared to sense an opportunity, with Castro expected to retire in April and market-oriented reforms already underway.
“I believe that Europe has the potential and interest to take an independent agenda in Cuba in economic and political matters for strategic purposes,” said a senior Latin American diplomat.
“Cuba does not cost so much and is very symbolic worldwide. At the same time it balances the growing Russian and Chinese influence,” the diplomat said.
Richard Feinberg, an economist and expert on Latin America and Cuba at the Brookings Institution, said Cuban commerce is so spread around the world today that no single country accounts for more than 20 percent of its total trade.