EU launches countermeasures to US-imposed sanctions on Iran

EU launches countermeasures to US-imposed sanctions on Iran
European Commission High Representative Federica Mogherini © Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken

The EU has introduced an updated Blocking Statute which seeks to protect European companies from the impact of US-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Earlier this year, the US announced plans to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), a deal under which Iran agreed to suspend its programme of uranium enrichment and the development of nuclear weapons in exchange for a relaxation of economic sanctions by the EU, the US and others. The announcement meant the reintroduction of US-imposed sanctions on Iran, and left EU leaders scrambling to save the deal.

In June, the European Commission launched the process of updating its Blocking Statute, in order to shield European businesses dealing with Iran from the impact of the sanctions. The updated Blocking Statute will enter into force tomorrow, and seeks to re-emphasise the EU’s commitment to the JCPoA.

What does the EU’s updated Blocking Statute entail?

One primary function of the Blocking Statute is that it forbids any EU citizen from complying with the US’ sanctions, unless they are exceptionally authorised to do so by the European Commission. What’s more, it allows EU operators to recover damages arising from the sanctions from the persons causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court ruling on them. The Commission will publish a guide for businesses to help them to comply with the new regulation.

In a joint statement, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini, and foreign ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian, from France, Heiko Maas, from Germany, and Jeremy Hunt, from the UK, expressed regret over the US’ decision to re-impose sanctions.

They said: “The JCPOA is working and delivering on its goal, namely to ensure that the Iranian programme remains exclusively peaceful… The lifting of nuclear-related sanctions is an essential part of the deal – it aims at having a positive impact not only on trade and economic relations with Iran, but most importantly on the lives of the Iranian people. We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran.”

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