Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini signed an agreement in Havana on Friday to normalize relations.
The new agreement replaces a policy adopted by 28-member bloc 20 years ago that pushed for changes to Cuba’s communist political system.
“The message we pass to Cuban authorities,” Mogherini said, “is that its going to be beneficial for Cuba if all the people of Cuba enjoy the changes that are coming from the opening up of the country.”
The new policy was announced just days before President Barack Obama’s visit to Havana, the first by a sitting US president since Cuba’s 1959 revolution. Europe suspended relations with Cuba after the “black spring” crackdown in 2003.
Mogherini said the EU would continue to pressure Cuba on human rights.
“The U.S. embargo is totally obsolete,” she said. “The blockade is a measure that belongs to another century. Now the priorities are dialogue and cooperation.”
President Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba faces a major obstacle in that Congress controls much of the regulations and restrictions pertaining to Cuba. As a workaround, Obama has embarked on steady, slow drum beat of actions taken to leverage executive authority to dismantle various Congressional rules that together make up the US embargo against Cuba.
The Cuba Journal collectively refers to these actions as Cubamacare.