Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The EU decision was unconditional

In all the discussion of the EU decision to lift its 2003 Cuba sanctions, and in all the spin from various delegations and others, one could get the impression that the decision to lift sanctions had strings attached in the form of human rights conditions.

The text is now available (at Encuentro, here), and it’s pretty clear that the decision was unconditional.

The EU document stresses Europe’s desire to see human rights improvements and its commitment to pursue a dialogue with Cubans in and out of government to “promote respect for human rights and real progress towards a pluralist democracy.”

The only thing that might be called a “condition” is in the final paragraph, and it has to do with the new “political dialogue process,” not the sanctions decision. “Relations with Cuba” will be evaluated in one year’s time, and “the dialogue will continue if the Council decides that it has been effective.”

So the sanctions are gone. If the EU sees no human rights progress, the formal “dialogue” may end, but a new debate and decision would be needed to reimpose sanctions. That seems unlikely, considering that the countries that were uneasy about lifting the sanctions declined to use their veto, and in an effort to reimpose sanctions, those who oppose new sanctions would be able to block EU unanimity.

Will the EU decision have any impact beyond the diplomatic sphere?

Note this part of the statement: “The EU reiterates the right of the Cuban citizens to decide independently about their future and remains ready to contribute positively to the future development of all sectors of Cuban society including through development cooperation instruments.”

And this from EU Commissioner Louis Michel, June 20: “This decision clears the way for a more open and frank dialogue between Brussels and Havana on a range of issues including human rights, the environment, science and technology. We can now look forward to improving and deepening cooperation on issues of common interest such as climate change or external development assistance.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Any truth to the rumor that, several years ago, Fidel C. blocked public access to the Malecon so his good buddy Louis Michel could fulfil his lifelong dream of riding his motorcycle across Havana?