In My Day: EU-Iran relations

The optimism that surrounded Iran a decade ago is now back, writes Tarja Cronberg.

By Tarja Cronberg

29 Feb 2016

The Iran nuclear deal is done and is now being implemented. Recently, the foreign minister of Iran visited the Parliament. This is a sign of optimism and hope for the future of EU-Iran relations. The road has been long.

In 2003, the three foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK travelled to Iran with three important tasks; to prevent a military attack on Iran, to create a global role for the EU and to mend their differences in the aftermath of the Iraq war.

They were successful on all three accounts. The 12 years of negotiations have closed Iran's path to a bomb and paved the way to economic cooperation. Already, only a few weeks into the implementation phase, the Europeans have signed deals to sell aircraft, to invest in the Iranian car industry and to start a joint venture in steel production.


In December 2013, I led the first official EP delegation in six years, to Tehran. Not everybody in the Parliament thought this was a good idea, although we had an agreement to meet with the Iranian Sakharov price winners from the previous year. Parliament's Iran strategy was voted down in the spring of 2014.

Now is the time to revive the dialogues on civilisations and cultures and on trade and cooperation from 2000-2003. These were suspended due to the nuclear issue. When our delegation in 2013 met with the Iranian Human Rights Council, there was even an interest in a dialogue on human rights with the EU.