I know the Deputy has a real concern with and knowledge of Cuba. Ireland and our EU partners have been following developments on the Helms-Burton Act in recent months and the issue has been discussed on several occasions at the EU Council Working Party on Transatlantic Relations, COTRA, at which Ireland has been represented at official level. It was also discussed at yesterday's meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council, which was attended by the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, because I was in Belfast.
Ireland’s reaction to the suspension of waivers remains in lockstep with that of our EU partners. We also echo the statement made on 2 May by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Ms Federica Mogherini, that: "EU considers the extra-territorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law and will draw on all appropriate measures to address the effects of the Helms-Burton Act, including in relation to its WTO rights and through the use of the EU Blocking Statute."
Fundamentally, Ireland believes that the US embargo on Cuba serves no constructive purpose and that its lifting would facilitate an opening of Cuba’s economy to the benefit of its people. In addition, we are not persuaded that the continued embargo is contributing in a positive way to the democratic transition in Cuba. With our EU partners, Ireland has also firmly and continuously opposed extraterritorial measures that seek to extend the US embargo against Cuba to third countries as contrary to commonly accepted rules of international trade.
The EU-Cuba agreement, which will be ratified shortly, is the best mechanism to support trade with Cuba and show solidarity with its people. Last week, the Minister of State, Deputy McEntee, was before the Oireachtas on this very issue to support the internal Irish legislative process which is required to enact the agreement within the EU. It is my hope that this process in Ireland and across the EU will be completed swiftly to allow for this important and timely agreement to come into full effect for the mutual benefit of EU and Cuban citizens.
The Deputy has asked me in previous parliamentary questions about the legislation the Government had to approve here. I hope she can see that it is now moving through the process.