Europe launches business safeguards for Iran trade

Charlene Craig
May 18, 2018

During their meeting with their Iranian counterpart Mohammed Javad Zarif earlier this week, European Union foreign ministers discussed how best to keep the nuclear agreement alive without the US.

In a clear response to the U.S. move, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that the bloc plans to apply a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with any sanctions the USA will reintroduce against Tehran, Deutsche Welle reported.

In Sofia, we saw a show of European unity.

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

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The European Commission said Friday it is taking steps to shield EU companies doing business in Iran after the USA government abandoned an worldwide nuclear deal and warned that it could impose sanctions on companies trading with Tehran.

Other measures proposed by the Commission, the EU executive, include urging EU governments to make transfers to Iran's central bank and to start the legal process of allowing the European Investment Bank to lend to EU projects in Iran. A spokesperson for the company told Climate Home News: "We take great care to ensure we always comply with applicable sanctions".

It comes after the US President pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord and gave businesses around the world notice to end their dealings with Tehran.

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

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U.S. President Donald Trump declared last week that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, claiming that it had failed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons or supporting terrorism in the region.

Maersk, the world's biggest shipping container firm, the French oil giant Total and German-based insurance firm Allianz have already announced plans to withdraw from operations in Iran, to avoid new United States sanctions.

The European Commissioner for Energy, Miguel Arias Canete, is expected on Friday in Tehran, where he will meet for three days with Iranian officials.

The second step will be to "remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the European Union, in Iran".

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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.

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