EU Unites on Iran With Moves to Counter Sanctions

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New US sanctions would be a significant blow for European companies that actively went to the Iranian market after 2015.

The European Commission will launch the process of activating a law that bans European companies and courts from complying with USA sanctions against Iran, after Washington pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

The European Commission said on Friday the measure would come into force within two months, unless the European Parliament and EU governments formally rejected it.

Following the lifting of sanctions imposed on Iran in 2016 caused by the implementation of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), many European companies flocked to Iran for clinching several billion-euro worth of deal and seized this opportunity to play an active role in Iran's energy sector, he concluded.

European Union officials say they are revamping the blocking statute to encompass Trump's May 8 decision to revive Iran-related sanctions.

"We will begin the "blocking statute" process, which aims to neutralise the extraterritorial effects of United States sanctions in the EU. We will have to see whether those remaining in the JCPOA can deliver those benefits to Iran", he said in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.

In recent days, several European companies have announced their intention to wind down business in Iran, raising questions about how much the EU can deliver on its promises.

Earlier this month, the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the JCPoA, an agreement which prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for greater participation in the global economy. By re-introducing it now, the European Union is seeking to ban firms respecting USA sanctions and make related U.S. court rulings non-effective in the EU.

As the European signatories of the JCPoA, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have repeated their commitment to the deal, and discussed compensatory measures to ensure that U.S. sanctions do not make the agreement void.

What action are Europe's businesses taking?

European Council President Donald Tusk said EU leaders had agreed to give the Commission the green light to act whenever European interests were affected. "We have pledged to take necessary political steps for our companies to stay in Iran". "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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