Ireland and our EU partners have long monitored the US embargo on Cuba, which ultimately is a policy issue for the US Administration. 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 a democratic transition in Cuba.
Recent developments on this issue have related to the US’s Helms-Burton Act, which seeks to internationalise aspects of the US’s embargo and penalise non-US citizens or entities that engage in economic activity with Cuba. The developments in the application of the Helms-Burton Act, which came into effect in the first half of this year, have been discussed on several occasions at the EU Council Working Party on Transatlantic Relations (COTRA), at which Ireland is represented at official level.
Ireland’s reaction to the suspension of waivers under the Helms-Burton act remains in lockstep with that of our EU partners and we also echo the statement made by the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on 2 May last, which stated that "The 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."
Together 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.
I do not believe that developments on the Helms-Burton Act will adversely affect the EU-Cuba Agreement, nor indeed Ireland-Cuba relations, both of which remain strong. I was pleased to note that the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, visited Ireland in October and met with President Higgins and the Taoiseach. I understand that the Taoiseach had a positive and constructive meeting with President Díaz-Canel and that they discussed the Helms-Burton Act and the US embargo, as well as other issues including human rights, and ways in which both countries can improve economic links and diplomatic ties.