HAVANA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) views Cuba as a "strategic ally" in fighting climate change and a key partner in the Caribbean, an EU commissioner said here Wednesday.
Stefano Manservisi, who is in charge of International Cooperation and Development and is in Cuba to attend a business forum on renewable energy, told a press conference that Cuba and the EU collaborated on the global warming issue in the lead-up to the Paris Climate Agreement last year and will continue to do so.
In the wake of a bilateral cooperation agreement between Cuba and the EU that took effect in November 2017, Europe will strive to "accompany the policy strategy with concrete measures" to help the island as it works to modernize its economy, he said.
The EU has earmarked 18 million euros (22.4 million U.S. dollars) to develop renewable energy in Cuba, which currently relies on oil for 90 percent of its energy needs, said Manservisi.
The Cuban government aims to transform its energy sector, so that 24 percent of its energy will come from renewable sources by 2030.
Another 20 million euros (24.8 million dollars) have been designated to improve Cuba's agricultural sector, which has "enormous" potential to reduce the country's food imports, said the EU commissioner.
Cuba imports some 80 percent of its food at a cost of some 2 billion dollars a year, according to official figures.
In Brussels in late February, the first Cuba-EU Joint Council will meet "to identify more areas of cooperation," said Manservisi.
The European bloc is negotiating a new framework agreement for ties and cooperation with Caribbean countries and while "Cuba is not a member (of the former agreement), it is one of the most important players in the Caribbean, due to its capacity and organization," he said.
"We are interested in it having an active position and playing an important role in triangular cooperation," he added.
Manservisi's visit comes less than a month after the EU's chief of foreign affairs Federica Mogherini visited the island country to enhance bilateral ties.