The European Commission vowed to protect European businesses, who are the biggest foreign investors in Cuba. Brussels is considering taking the United States to the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation and using the EU Blocking Statute, which allows European firms “sued in the US to recover any damage through legal proceedings against US claimants before EU courts”. A Commission spokesman said: “The EU is ready to protect European interests, including European investments and economic activities of EU individuals and entities in their relations with Cuba.”
They added: “The Commission is opposed to extraterritorial application of unilateral restrictive measures.”
The backlash follows Washington’s decision to sue foreign companies doing business in Cuba on property that was seized from Americans.
US national security adviser John Bolton announced the move at a speech commemorating the 58th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs scandal, a failed invasion of Cuba backed by President John F. Kennedy.
A senior State Department officials claimed the move was in response to Cuba’s “malign activity” in the region.
The source said: “The purpose of the legislation was justice for those who had property taken.”
On the threat of legal action on EU firms, they added: ‘We will not allow those who traffic expropriated property off the hook.
“Any company that traffics in that property could be liable under this law.”
In a joint statement, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini and trade boss Cecilia Malmstrom declared “strong opposition to the extraterritorial application of unilateral Cuba-related measures that are contrary to international law”.
They added: “The decision is also a breach of the United States’ commitments undertaken in the EU-US agreements of 1997 and 1998, which have been respected by both sides without interruption since then.”
They penned a letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on April 10 in a bid to defuse the situation before the row erupts.
They wrote: “We believe that the issue of outstanding US claims should not be conflated with the cause of furthering democracy and human rights in Cuba, or by our shared desire urgently to find a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela.”
The US has previously accused Cuba of sending troops and intelligence officers to support Nicolas Maduro’s regime in Venezuela.
“There is military intervention in Venezuela from Russia, Iran and Cuba to prop up the Maduro regime, according to the US State Department.
“It is widely known these Cuban officers are deeply entrenched with the Venezuelan state and part of Maduro’s inner circle.”