EU moves to protect businesses as US imposes sanctions on Iran

Written by Martin Banks on 7 August 2018 in News

US President Donald Trump’s decision to re-impose sanctions on Iran has put the US on a direct collision course with the EU.

Donald Trump | Photo credit: Press Association

On Tuesday, the EU reacted to the move by launching an attempt to protect European businesses from Trump’s sanctions against Iran.

This comes after the US administration voiced its intent to apply maximum pressure on Tehran by vigorously applying its punitive measures.

At the same time, what is known in the jargon as a ‘blocking statute’ - last used to protect EU firms from similar US sanctions against Cuba - was brought into force in an attempt, according to the European Commission, to “insulate firms and keep alive a deal designed to limit the Iranian government’s nuclear aspirations.”


Companies in Europe have been instructed by the EU that they should not comply with demands from the White House for them to drop all business with Iran. 

A joint statement issued by the foreign ministers of the EU’s 28 member states said there was a “determination to protect” the bloc’s economic interests and the nuclear deal, which Brussels, along with China and Russia, continues to support.

The statement read, “The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal; it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people.

“We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN security council resolution 2231.

This is why the European Union’s updated blocking statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.”

As the first batch of re-imposed US sanctions on Iran takes effect, the EU’s updated “blocking statute” entered into force on Tuesday “to mitigate their impact on the interests of EU companies doing legitimate business in Iran.”

This is part of the European Union’s support for the “continued full and effective implementation” of the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) – the Iran nuclear deal signed by former US President Barack Obama.

A Commission spokesperson said, “The blocking statute allows EU operators to recover damages arising from US extraterritorial sanctions from the persons causing them and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court rulings based on them. 

“It also forbids EU persons from complying with those sanctions, unless exceptionally authorised to do so by the Commission in case non-compliance seriously damages their interests or the interests of the Union.”

The spokesperson said the EU “is fully committed to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, as long as Iran also respects its nuclear-related commitments.”

“The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions allowing for the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the JCPOA. At the same time, the European Union is also committed to maintaining cooperation with the United States, who remains a key partner and ally.

In addition to the new EU measures, the Commission said it is in close coordination with member states and other partners “working on concrete measures aimed at sustaining the cooperation with Iran in key economic sectors, particularly on banking and finance, trade and investment, oil, and transport.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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