European Union moves to shield European Union firms from USA sanctions against Iran

European Union moves to shield European Union firms from USA sanctions against Iran

The European Commission says it has launched "the blocking statute" process to protect Europeans from U.S. sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran.

For this goal, European Union will enact a law to ban its companies from United States sanctions imposed on Iran, Juncker maintained. "We will do that tomorrow [Friday] morning at 10:30", he told a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, after a meeting of European Union leaders.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington quit the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran's nuclear activity in exchange for lifting the UN Security Council's sanctions and unilateral restrictions introduced by the US and the EU.

The Commission also proposes to allow the European Investment Bank (EIB) to facilitate investment by European companies in Iran. However, the Cuba row was settled politically, so the blocking regulation's effectiveness was never put to the test, and its value may lie more as a bargaining chip with Washington.

The EU's blocking statute bans any EU company from complying with USA sanctions and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

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Earlier this month, the USA 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. "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.

The commission said it hopes the statute will be in force before August 6 when the first batch of reimposed U.S. sanctions take effect.

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. According to European sources, this measure may become the EU's first step towards ditching dollar in trade with Iran.

In a Friday statement, the Commission also said it "will continue and strengthen the ongoing sectoral cooperation with, and assistance to, Iran, including in the energy sector and with regard to small and medium-sized companies".

The US Treasury has said it is giving European companies three to six months to wind down their business in Iran or face sanctions as well.

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