European Union unveils 'statute' to protect Iran trade against U.S. sanctions

Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran

EU moves to block US sanctions on Iran

The US will re-impose economic sanctions on Iran and has warned that these sanctions could also apply to countries which continue to deal with the country, demanding EU action to protect European companies investing in Iran.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that one reason for the efforts to prop up the Iran deal is "so that our businesses can remain" in Iran.The EU leaders pledged at the meeting to keep a united front against Trump, whose decisions to pull out of the Iran deal and to impose trade tariffs on Europe have triggered the worst transatlantic crisis since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.EU President Donald Tusk renewed attacks on Trump at the summit Thursday, suggesting that the USA administration was now as unpredictable as Iran's regime. "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. 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 goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of United States sanctions take effect.

"US sanctions will not be without effect, so it is our duty, in the Commission and in the European Union, to do what we can to protect our European businesses, especially SMEs", said Friday. the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker.

The European Commission on Friday proposed activating a dormant statute to shield European firms doing business with Iran from renewed US sanctions.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, the remaining parties have all pledged to stick to the deal if Tehran respects its terms.

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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.

The measure represents the first practical step towards saving the Iran nuclear deal taken by the EU.

During talks in Brussels on Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said efforts to save the deal were on the "right track". The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation with Iran.

European investments in Iran, mainly from Germany, France, and Italy, have jumped by more than 20 billion euros since 2016. Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy Miguel Arias Canete will travel to Tehran this weekend.

The commission said it is also encouraging European Union member states to explore the idea of "one-off bank transfers" to the Central Bank of Iran.

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