EU Launches Measures To Protect European Biz In Iran

18 May, 2018, 16:18 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • French oil giant Total is preparing to pull out of Iran to avoid risking US sanctions

The Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, ) signed by Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, Britain, Russia and China - plus Germany on July 14, 2015, imposes strict restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.

The EU launched formal steps Friday aimed at sparing European firms fallout from U.S. sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran.

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to get around Washington's trade embargo on Cuba.

US President Donald Trump's decision to walk away from the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran has raised serious concerns and worries among America's European allies.

The European Commission received the unanimous backing of EU heads of government to proceed with proposals made by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and High Representative Federica Mogherini, which aim to protect European companies investing in Iran through action on four fronts.

Brussels also needs to prove that Washington can not dictate how European businesses operate.

Unless it is formally rejected by the European Parliament and EU governments, the measure will come into force within two months, and can be activated sooner if there is strong political support.

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"But the American sanctions will not be without effect".

Much to Europe's displeasure, foreign companies doing business with Iran are also at the crosshairs of the US sanctions.

Where do Europe's leaders stand?

Meanwhile, the commission also stressed Friday that the European Union remains committed to its "essential cooperation" with the U.S., which remains a key partner and ally.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that it might be possible to compensate small and medium-sized firms, but not all businesses, from United States sanctions.

Meanwhile, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation called on the European signatories to make up for the United States withdrawal from the agreement.

Speaking on Thursday, Juncker said if the USA exempted the European Union from import tariffs, the bloc would consider buying more liquefied natural gas from the US. "The president of the French republic is not the CEO of Total", said French President Emmanuel Macron, commenting on the decision by the French oil firm to withdraw from an Iranian project.

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However, President Trump has explicitly noted that U.S. hopes to reach a "fair" deal with Iran through new rounds of talks. "It's clear that there should also be economic incentives - that will not be easy after the US decision", Maas said.