BRUSSELS: The European Commission on Thursday submitted for approval an accord to normalize ties with Cuba, long strained by the EU’s backing of human rights activists in one of the world’s last communist states.
The European Union and Cuba settled their differences in March as US President Barack Obama brought Havana back in from the cold after nearly 60 estranged years with the West.
The Commission said it had presented a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) with Cuba to the 28 EU member states for signing.
The PDCA “opens new avenues to support Cuba’s process of economic and social modernization, to foster sustainable development, democracy and human rights, as well as to seek common solutions to global challenges,” a statement said.
At the same time, EU foreign affairs head Federica Mogherini submitted a proposal to repeal what is known as the EU’s 1996 “Common Position” on Cuba which made improving human rights a condition for better ties.
Havana rejected the policy as interference in its domestic affairs and pressed hard for its removal during the normalization talks.
Mogherini said the agreement with Cuba “marks a turning point in our relations.”
Cuba was previously the only Latin American country without an international cooperation deal with the EU.
In 2003, the EU imposed sanctions on Cuba and suspended cooperation over a crackdown on journalists and activists and it took until 2008 to get talks going again.
Both Commission proposals will now be reviewed by the member states, with final adoption expected in the coming months, the statement said. AFP