Members of the European Parliament take part in a voting session at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, on July 5, 2017. (AFP photo)
The European Parliament has approved the first ever deal between the European Union
as the continental bloc seeks overtures to the island nation despite US President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance against Havana.
The Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement was approved on Wednesday by lawmakers of the parliament in the eastern French city of Strasbourg.
The deal, which was signed in December 2016 after two years of negotiations, would go into full implementation after ratification by the EU
’s 28 member countries, a complex process that can take years. However, the provisional implementation of the deal would begin in the coming months.
The European legislature voted for a non-binding resolution as there was still concern within the EU about Cuba’s human rights records. The MEPs urged the EU by the resolution to assist “the economic and political transition in Cuba” including towards “democratic standards”. The EU parliament website said the pact includes a provision to suspend the agreement if the provisions on human rights are violated. It added that the pact “will help expand bilateral trade, promote dialogue and economic cooperation and provide for joint action on the world scene.”
Spanish MEP Elena Valenciano (L), the European Parliament’s rapporteur of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement, takes part in a voting session on the conclusion of the deal at the main hall of the legislature in Strasbourg, eastern France, July 5, 2017. (AFP photo)
Many said the deal was a major riposte to Trump’s efforts to neutralize his predecessor Barack Obama’s rapprochement policy toward Cuba. Trump has adopted a much harsher rhetoric against Cuba since he took office five months ago, prompting concerns that US and Cuba could resume old hostilities and dash hopes for a normalization in ties.
MEP Elena Valenciano, the rapporteur of the EU-Cuba agreement, said the deal could show to the US that there is still the chance for the West to contain Cuba through giving it privileges.
“Europe has a great opportunity to demonstrate to the United States, which intends to withdraw, that it is possible to maintain the highest level of expectations on Cuba,” said Valenciano, adding that could be a major step to normalize relations with Havana.