EU’s International Coverage consultant Borrell begins his journey to Cuba with help for the island’s non-public sector | Worldwide


Josep Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, during an official act in Havana.
Josep Borrell, the pinnacle of European diplomacy, throughout an official act in Havana.YANDER ZAMORA (REUTERS)

Josep Borrell’s first journey to Havana as excessive consultant of International Coverage for the European Union started on Thursday with a transparent present of help to the more and more vital Cuban non-public sector and a message to the authorities that Brussels is prepared to collaborate within the deepening of the financial reform going down on the island, because the nation goes by means of one of many worst crises in its historical past, which has resulted in unprecedented social unrest. Borrell’s go to, which is able to final till Saturday, comes at a very complicated second for the federal government of Miguel Díaz-Canel, which in current months has exponentially elevated its financial and political rapprochement with Russia. Given this example, European diplomacy is attempting to maintain the channels of dialogue and affect open, preserving the areas created since 2017 with the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Settlement between Cuba and the EU, which put an finish to the 20 years of estrangement that concerned the so-called European widespread place promoted by former Spanish President José María Aznar.

Inside this dialogue, of utmost significance for the EU, is the all the time delicate problem of progress within the discipline of human rights, which shall be mentioned on Friday within the official talks and which generates fairly a number of frictions on the Cuban aspect, though a minimum of now it may be formally mentioned. For Havana, one of many key points is the European condemnation of the U.S. embargo and help for its diplomatic efforts to get the Biden Administration to take away the island from the record of nations sponsoring terrorism, one thing that Borrell has already raised prior to now together with his Washington counterparts, though nothing has moved up to now. The picture in Cuba, principally, continues to be that of a chilly conflict, with Russia ever nearer and immersed within the conflict in Ukraine and the Cuban authorities entrenched in opposition to U.S. coverage, which it considers the reason for all its ills. On this state of affairs, Europe is enjoying its playing cards, that are of “constructive” however on the identical time “essential” engagement on varied points; that’s, to not break the deck and little by little to realize progress.

Within the midst of the present galloping disaster, the inexperienced gentle given in 2021 to the creation of personal MSMEs (micro, small and medium-sized enterprises), with authorized persona and as much as 100 staff, has opened a brand new state of affairs on the island. Practically 8,000 have already been created, and though they nonetheless function with many bureaucratic obstacles, they’ve modified Cuba’s financial panorama -one out of each three Cubans now works within the non-public sector, which contributes nearly 12% of the GDP, a actuality unthinkable only a decade in the past.

Exactly, Borrell’s first public act in Cuba was a gathering with representatives of the brand new MSMEs, who defined to him the potential of this opening and the issues they face for his or her companies to prosper. “We all know that the present context is filled with challenges for MSMEs and new financial actors, but in addition of formidable alternatives,” mentioned the pinnacle of European diplomacy, noting that the EU was at their service “to help them and work with the authorities within the seek for options to make their contribution to society extra viable.”

The EU is dedicated to working with the related Cuban ministries to trade “greatest practices and experiences” by way of laws that contribute to the modernization of the financial system and stimulate MSMEs in varied methods – with coaching programs, technical help, recommendation, entry to financing, and so on. – and likewise contribute to better authorized certainty, mentioned Borrell. Within the afternoon, he was scheduled to fulfill with European businessmen – the EU is a pacesetter in funding and commerce with the island – to additionally categorical their help and backing. Within the interval 2021-2024, the EU plans to take a position 91 million euros in varied collaboration agreements, of which 14 million euros are earmarked for the rising MSME sector, a determine that would enhance within the coming years.

On his first day in Cuba he additionally held a gathering with the Cuban episcopate, and on Friday he’ll meet with Cuban International Minister Bruno Rodriguez to carry the third EU-Cuba Joint Council, as a part of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Settlement between Cuba and the European Union. The final bodily assembly of this format was held in September 2019, when EU diplomacy was nonetheless within the palms of Federica Mogherini. A month later, Borrell traveled to Havana, albeit in his capability as Spanish overseas minister, on one in all his final missions earlier than taking up the diplomatic portfolio from the Italian, in December of that 12 months. Two years later, in 2021, with Borrell on the helm, the appointment was restricted to a mere casual assembly by videoconference, because of the pandemic.

Previous to Borrell’s journey to Cuba a number of NGOs requested him to handle in his high-level talks the difficulty of the greater than 700 prisoners from the huge demonstrations of July 11, 2021 -something Borrell already condemned on the time- and to demand their launch. How the difficulty shall be touched upon, and whether or not the pinnacle of European diplomacy will ask for some type of “gesture” from the Cuban aspect, is just not recognized. It’s presumable that it’ll occur, however in any case it will likely be in a discreet manner, for the reason that present European place is to maintain the channels of communication open with a purpose to exert affect, apart from the truth that Borrell’s go to should even be learn in a multilateral key, as a part of the method of the EU to the Latin American and Caribbean nations on the eve of the following EU-CELAC summit, to be held in Brussels on July 17 and 18. European sources level out that Cuba is an “vital voice” amongst growing nations as president professional tempore of the group of 134 growing nations that make up the G-77+China. And if Cuba asks Europe to grow to be extra actively concerned in getting the U.S. to vary its coverage of suffocation and take away the island from the record of nations that don’t collaborate within the battle in opposition to terrorism, the previous diplomatic dilemma of “assist me and I’ll assist you” is there once more.

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