The European Parliament has initiated a new era of relations with Cuba by giving a green light to a new political dialogue and cooperation agreement between both parties. The process was started by the head of EU diplomacy Federica Mogherini and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez in December last year. The new deal replaced the previous “Common Position” which had provided a framework for the mutual relations between the two since 1996.
The new deal has also ended Cuba’s status of being the only Latin American country without any formal agreement with the EU. Despite the success in the European Parliament, MEPs have also urged Havana to respect human rights by aligning to the international agreement to which it is now a signatory. Brussels confirmed that the mutual deal could be cancelled if Cuba does not adhere to the human rights requirement. The EU’s main objective has mostly been to try to facilitate Cuba’s democratic transition and integration in the international order, which was initiated by former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar and the EU’s Common Position on Cuba.
Havana and Brussels formally established their diplomatic ties in 1988 around the time when the Communist bloc in Eastern and Central Europe was falling apart. However, in 1996, the relations with Europe were affected by the US-Cuba diplomatic crisis caused by the shooting down of ‘Brothers to the Rescue’ aircraft operated by volunteers helping Cuban exiles. This led to a US embargo on the Communist island introduced by the Helms-Burton Act that stipulated that non-American companies who maintained ties with Cuba could be subject to legal reprisals, thus threatening European companies doing business with the Caribbean country.