EU-Cuba relations: the role of organised civil society (information report)

Information report: EU-Cuba relations: the role of organised civil society (information report)

Composition of the Study Group

Administrator: Lucia Mendez del Rio Cabra

Assistant: Judit Landesz

Key points:

EU-Cuba relations started in 1996, with the establishment of the Common Position. In May 2010, the European Commission approved a Strategy Document for 2011-2013, in which 20 million euros were channelled to support Development Cooperation actions in the Island. In 2014, the Parties started negotiations towards a Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement that was signed in 2016 and finally put into force on November 1st 2017.

Article 36 of the EU-Cuba PDCA recognises the potential contribution of civil society and agrees on promoting support actions for a higher participation of civil society in the formulation and execution of development and cooperation policies. However, the EESC notes that, unlike other treaties or cooperation agreements concluded by the EU, there are no specific mechanisms foreseen for the involvement of civil society organisations. In this sense, the EESC draws the attention of the European External Action Service to the need to set up some kind of mechanism for the civil society of both sides to follow up and monitor the application of the PDCA (joint consultative committee).

The EESC is willing to put the experience of European organised civil society on human rights and economic, social and cultural rights (social dialogue and civil dialogue) at the disposal of the Parties, in keeping with Article 36 of the Agreement.

The EESC is also willing to share European experience on managing SMEs, the cooperative movement and the solidarity economy, aspects that may be of interest to our Cuban partners in the process of economic reform under way in Cuba.

The voluntary sector plays an important role in both Cuba and Europe at times of crisis or natural disaster, providing support to vulnerable populations, especially with regard to health. The EESC considers that evaluating the experience of the voluntary sector would be a worthwhile area for exchange between the Parties .