Winds of change for EU and US relations with Cuba

 

This debate, co-organised with the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and held at CEPS on April 18th, was an opportunity to analyse developments in EU and US relations with Cuba, following the recent visits of both HR/VP Mogherini and President Obama to the island. The visit of Mogherini, her second in her current capacity as EU Foreign Policy Chief, marked the formal conclusion of the negotiations for a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement between Cuba and the European Union.

For President Obama, the visit marked a dramatic new phase in relations between the US and its next door island neighbour, coming almost 90 years after the previous US presidential visit by Calvin Coolidge.

Some panellists suggested that we should not overestimate the impact of these developments, bearing in mind the painfully slow process of change on the island. At the same time, it was clear that economic considerations and the need for foreign investment in Cuba will provide added pressure for greater openness, as will the increased interaction between Cuba and the rest of Latin America, and the recognition of Cuba’s role in the Colombian peace talks.

While the pace of change is likely to be slow – maybe too slow for some – it is generally agreed that the more doors are opened to international cooperation, the greater the chances for progress.