European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

European Union defies Trump with move to 'block' US Iran sanctions

The European Commission on Friday passed the first package of measures on protecting the interests of EU companies investing in Iran from U.S. sanctions, nullifying them on the EU territory, the official statement said.

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to get around Washington's trade embargo on Cuba, which prohibits EU companies and courts from complying with specific foreign sanction laws, and says no foreign court judgments based on these laws have any effect in the European Union.

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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Measures could include retaliatory sanctions, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest in Iran and co-ordinating euro-denominated credit lines from European governments.

The European Union said today that it had taken steps in an effort to protect European businesses from the impact of USA sanctions against Iran.

We also chose to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies' investment in 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".

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. Trump vowed to reinstate the previous sanctions and introduce new restrictions should Tehran carry out its nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, the commission also stressed Friday that the European Union remains committed to its "essential cooperation" with the USA, which remains a key partner and ally.

The Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, ) signed by Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, Britain, Russia and China - plus Germany on July 14, 2015, imposes strict restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.

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.

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