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Europe-Cuba Forum Network

Research Questions

The signature of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement (PDCA) in December 2016 opened a new stage of constructive engagement in relations between Cuba and the European Union (EU). With the PDCA, the EU becomes a privileged partner for Cuba that is willing to cooperate in the reform process and accompany the country in its new phase of openness and change, which was initiated during the government of Raúl Castro in 2006. This project will analyse the new opportunities for the relationship, but also the difficulties conditioned by the existing asymmetries between the two partners, the relatively low economic weight of the island vis-à-vis the European bloc, the limitations imposed by the impacts of the global crisis, the different natures of the political and economic systems and the costs of President Donald Trump's policy. However the PDCA will improve relations, share experiences of transformation processes and allow Cuba's greater integration into EU-Caribbean relations and the regional programmes of the EU-CELAC (Community of Latin America and Caribbean States) Strategic Partnership.

Contribution to International Research

The Europe-Cuba Forum is a collaborative initiative created in 2017 by a consortium of eleven institutions that share consolidated experience in research on Cuban affairs and relations between Europe and Cuba. This proposal for a Jean Monnet Network Europe-Cuba Forum addresses European-Cuban relations from an academic perspective focused on the ongoing reform processes (economic, political, social and institutional) on the island necessary for its global, regional and interregional (EU-CELAC) insertion.

Research Design and Methods

Common methodology and shared research between Cuban and European academic centres and institutions will promote the exchange of mutual experiences in structural reforms, regional integration, socioeconomic modernisation, and interregionalism. The Jean Monnet Network, inspired by the shared ideas of cooperation and integration, seeks to consolidate and strengthen this Europe-Cuba network of experts with a three-year work plan divided into three thematic blocks to be developed through joint and multidisciplinary research: 1) cooperation for economic reforms and sustainable development; 2) cooperation for institutional reform and social policies; 3) interregional cooperation and global insertion. Each of the blocks will have a symmetrical research structure, activities and deliverables, although the methodology and tasks of the research work will be adapted according to the subject of each block. First, a set of working papers will be prepared by specialists from the different institutions. These papers will be discussed at international seminars to be held in Havana, Hamburg and Barcelona, respectively, in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years of the project. Three policy briefs for practitioners and decision-makers will be produced as a result of the research presented and the discussions at the seminar in each block. A book will be published on each of the scientific topics with chapters validated through peer review processes to ensure the highest quality research contribution is made to the scientific community.

Preliminary Findings

In its first year the project addressed Cuba's economic reform agenda and the prospects of sustainable development. Based on a conference held in Havana and the publication of 10 working papers it identified crucial issues for EU-Cuban cooperation, such as the island's economic insertion into the international economy and global value chains, the potential role of public-private partnerships, or the competitiveness of Cuban tourism. In the second year, the project focused on institutional reform and social policies. While the conference planned to be held at the GIGA, Hamburg, in April 2020, had to be postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, its contributions were published in a series of 14 working papers, again identifying crucial issues for the island's development and potential EU-Cuban cooperation.

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