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Brussels, 24 October 2008

European Commission and Cuba relaunch cooperation

The European Commission and the Republic of Cuba have today relaunched their cooperation. The joint declaration, signed by Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel and Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Felipe Pérez Roque at ceremony in Havana, provides a general framework to guide both parties as future cooperation is progressively developed.

European Commissioner Louis Michel, stated, "This is a turning point for EU-Cuban relations. I am delighted that we have agreed on this joint declaration that sets out a framework for our future cooperation in areas of common interest."

Both parties have agreed to continue to explore the areas for potential cooperation. These could include the environment, science and technology, trade, cultural exchanges and disaster preparedness. European Commission funding of between 20 and 25 million euros could be invested in these areas of future co-operation.

In addition, the European Commission today announced that it has earmarked an initial 2 million euros to assist in the reconstruction of areas devastated by hurricanes Gustav and Ike with a focus on rebuilding homes.

Commissioner Michel added, "The world witnessed the terrible destructive power of these two hurricanes as they struck the Caribbean region this summer. An extremely well organised evacuation of vulnerable populations by the Cuban authorities saved many hundreds of lives but no-one can prevent damage to property and infrastructure. That's why the European Commission is ready to assist with funding to help repair homes and infrastructure so badly needed by certain populations on the island."

Commissioner Michel will travel on Friday to the Pinar del Rio province to witness first hand the devastation left by the hurricanes and the current reconstruction efforts.

Countries across the Caribbean were badly affected by the recent series of powerful hurricanes. The Commission has allocated significant humanitarian funding to help people affected by the storms in the region. Actions in Cuba will be implemented by partner agencies that have worked in the country for many years. European humanitarian aid is provided impartially to vulnerable communities that most need assistance in the aftermath of natural disasters.

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