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Monday, 03 February 2014

Trade relations upgrade between EU and Cuba hinges on human rights

The European Union (EU) may consider upgrading the bloc's trade relations with Cuba, but only if Cuba respects human rights, said Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, Foreign Minister of Spain. He told reporters in Brussels that EU countries have asked the European Commission (EC) to explore the opportunity of reaching an association agreement with Cuba. These agreements usually pave the way for trade liberalization with countries outside the 28 EU member states.
But Garcia Margallo warned that any association agreement "would have, as a determining factor, respect for human rights." Garcia Margallo informed that EU foreign ministers will discuss Cuba at a meeting on Monday 10 February. Any changes to EU policy would require the approval of all EU nations.Statistics and EU figures show the bloc is already Cuba's second-largest trading partner, after Venezuela. A formal association agreement would grant Cuba privileged status and closer relations.
Cuba has endorsed a series of reforms since Raul Castro became president in 2006. The changes have included opening up Internet access and allowing Cubans to run their own businesses and travel abroad without asking permission from the government. But Cuban authorities still consider as subversive dissidents anyone who take foreign money to try to undermine the Communist system. Cuba also refutes holding any political prisoners.
EU-Cuba relations are governed by a constructive engagement policy adopted in 2006 with the Caribbean island's government as opposed to coercive measures such as the economic sanctions enforced by the United States.

Source: FOX news