On 14 October 2020, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs): David Lega, Leopoldo López Gil, Antonio López-Istúriz White and Michael Gahler of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell:
“The pandemic outbreak has had severe effects on an already dire situation in Cuba, resulting in one of the worst food shortages in 25 years. In addition, the necessary hygiene supplies are in short supply.
It has come to our knowledge that a large shipment of humanitarian aid collected by the Cuban exile community was illegally seized by the Cuban authorities upon its arrival in Cuba.
We reiterate that the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) obliges the Cuban Government to uphold and improve human rights and the rule of law. The PDCA includes a provision for the agreement to be suspended in the event of a violation of the human rights provisions. We believe that recent events, adding to the long history of severe human rights violations, must be considered a ‘case of special urgency’, as set out in Article 85 of the agreement.
1. What contact has the VP/HR had with the Cuban Government regarding the barriers blocking humanitarian aid?
2. Does the VP/HR deem the Cuban Government to have fulfilled its obligations under the PDCA?
3. Does the VP/HR intend to call an urgent meeting, as provided for in Article 85 of the PDCA?”
On 21 January 2021, High Representative and Vice-President Borrell responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “As pointed out in replies to written questions E-004694/2020, E-005321/2020 and E-005416/2020, the European Union provides and supports humanitarian aid based on the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence grounded in the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Independence in this context means the autonomy of humanitarian objectives from political, economic, military or other objectives.
Humanitarian aid is foreseen in Article 18.3 of the Agreement of the EU-Cuba Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA), which states that ‘EU humanitarian assistance will be provided (to Cuba) on the basis of jointly identified needs and in line with the humanitarian principles, upon the occurrence of natural or other disasters.’
The PDCA sets out an agenda of critical engagement with Cuba that enables to enhance dialogue and improve cooperation in all its pillars. Through the set dialogue and cooperation,
the EU intends to accompany the reform processes underway in Cuba, promoting human rights and sustainable development.
The EU will not comment on assistance not falling into the scope of application of the PDCA.”
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