Europe Tells Trump His Cuba-Property Shift Will Cause ‘Friction’

(Bloomberg) -- The European Union warned about greater transatlantic political tensions after President Donald Trump decided to let U.S. citizens file lawsuits over property confiscated in Cuba during the 1959 revolution.

“This will cause unnecessary friction and undermines trust and predictability in the transatlantic partnership,” EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said in an emailed statement Thursday on behalf of the EU’s 28 national governments.

Europe Tells Trump His Cuba-Property Shift Will Cause ‘Friction’

The U.S. is enforcing as of May 2 a provision of a 1996 law known as the Helms-Burton Act that allows Cubans who fled Fidel Castro’s regime to sue companies that have used their former property on the island. Like his predecessors, Trump had previously waived the provision -- Title III -- because enforcing it could result in a flood of litigation against foreign firms.

The U.S. policy reversal comes at a delicate moment in transatlantic relations, with both sides preparing for tariff-cut negotiations meant to deepen economic integration and to keep at bay a threat of American duties on European cars and auto parts. The EU is the biggest foreign investor in Cuba.

Appropriate Measures

In her statement, Mogherini said the bloc “deeply regrets” the Trump administration’s full activation of the Helms-Burton Act and repeated an EU threat also made by Canada to complain to the World Trade Organization over the move.

“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,” she said. “The EU will continue to work with its international partners who have also voiced their concerns in this regard.”

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