BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Union could take the United States to the World Trade Organization or use retaliatory sanctions to protect its companies in Cuba after President Donald Trump lifted a ban on U.S. citizens filing lawsuits against investors there.
“The EU considers the extra-territorial application of unilateral restrictive measures to be contrary to international law and will draw on all appropriate measures,” the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
Mogherini said those steps could include a World Trade Organization case on the issue or using a “Blocking Statute” that allows EU companies sued in the United States to recover any damages from U.S. claimants in EU courts.
Mogherini said the EU would also seek support from other countries, although she did not name them. European, as well as Canadian companies, have invested in Cuba’s tourism and energy sectors and Trump’s decision is likely to further strain ties.
The Trump administration last month lifted a long-standing ban against U.S. citizens filing lawsuits against foreign companies that use properties seized by Cuba’s Communist government since Fidel Castro’s 1959 revolution.
The major policy shift, which the State Department said could draw hundreds of thousands of legal claims worth tens of billions of dollars, is intended to intensify pressure on Havana at a time Washington is demanding an end to Cuban support for Venezuela’s socialist president, Nicolas Maduro.
Reporting by Robin Emmott