Brussels looks to protect EU companies after Trump quits Iran deal

EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini reacts to Question on the Iran Nuclear deal, during a news conference in Brussels, May 15, 2018. Mogherini convened a meeting with the E3 Foreign Ministers (Heiko Maas, Foreign Minister of Germany, Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister of France and Boris Johnson, Foreign Minister of the United Kingdom), followed by a meeting of the four with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Brussels looks to protect EU companies after Trump quits Iran deal


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EU authorities will present, during an informal meeting that will take place in the Bulgarian capital Sofia various options to protect the economic interests of European companies, following a decision by US President Donald J. Trump to withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran, a senior European official told the press.

“[The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude] Juncker and [Foreign Affairs chief Federica] Mogherini will present various variants of how to protect the interests of European operators after the departure of the US from the nuclear agreement,” a senior EU official told reporters on May 15 ahead of the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia.

According to the senior EU official, the bloc is expected to send a clear message regarding Iran’s compliance with the agreement. European Council President Donald Tusk will have the E3 leaders – Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and UK Prime Minister Theresa May – present their assessment on the situation following Trump’s decision.

The three EU Member States that originally signed the agreement with Trumps’ predecessor – Barack Obama, as well as with Russia and China – hope to fight to keep the landmark Iran deal alive.

The E3 foreign ministers – Boris Johnson of the UK, Germany’s Heiko Maas, and France’s Jean-Yves le Drian and along with EU foreign affairs head Mogherini met with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to discuss a way forward  the process, in Brussels, as a last attempt at this level before the Sofia Summit.

The Iran nuclear deal, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in July 2015 after Tehran, Russia, the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, and Germany agreed on a  detailed, 159-page agreement that established a series of limitations on Iran’s nuclear programme that would keep the Islamic Republic from developing weapons-grade plutonium in exchange for the lifting of crippling international sanctions.

Trump has said he is ready to reinstate the crippling economic sanctions regime that had been imposed on Iran for over a decade within 180 days. Trump also warned his European allies he would impose stiff sanctions on EU companies who either do business in Iran or who opt to honour legally binding business contracts with Iranian companies.

I would like our debate to reconfirm, without any doubt. that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it. This is the line already discussed by our foreign ministers and presented by the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, all fo who are working hard to sustain the deal. We should also get an update from High Representative Mogherini, while President Juncker will share his thoughts on how the interests of the European companies engaged in economic cooperation with Iran can be best preserved,” Tusk said in his letter to the 28 members of the bloc, as well as six aspiring EU nations, ahead of the Sofia Summit.

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