EU Unites on Iran With Moves to Counter Sanctions

US sanctions against Iran to favour Russian businesses

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

"We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process to activate the "blocking statute" from 1996".

United States sanctions must be reinstated within 90 to 180 days. Iran has warned that a loss of European Union business will force it to pull out of the accord, under which it agreed to stop enriching uranium in return for greater trade with the West.

Brussels also needs to prove that Washington can not dictate how European businesses operate.

Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran
Iran and EU attempt to salvage deal

The European Parliament and the Council of the EU will decide to approve or reject the proposals within two months, ahead of the first batch of USA sanctions taking effect on August 6.

As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies.

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

The EU and Iran have now set up expert teams to come up with measures quickly and are scheduled to meet in the Austrian capital of Vienna next week at a deputy foreign minister level.

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Earlier this month, President Donald Trump opted to withdraw the U.S. from a joint nuclear agreement with Iran, and chose to reinstate all sanctions that had previously been imposed on Iran, but were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.

However, there are signs that European and multinational businesses - faced with a choice between cutting ties with Iran and jeopardising operations in the world's biggest economy, the United States - are opting for the former.

European companies that invested in Iran after the deal are already taking fright, with French energy giant Total warning it could pull out, and Danish shipping giant Maersk and German insurer Allianz also saying they plan to wind down activities there.

Where do Europe's leaders stand?

The EU will remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal, the European Commission said on Friday.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that it might be possible to compensate small and medium-sized firms, but not all businesses, from U.S. sanctions.

Speaking on Thursday, Juncker said if the U.S. exempted the European Union from import tariffs, the bloc would consider buying more liquefied natural gas from the US.

Meanwhile, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation called on the European signatories to make up for the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement.

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