European Union launches protection measures for companies against United States sanctions

Behrouz Mehri AFP | Never far away in 2014 a year before the nuclear deal Total had a stand at Iran's oil and gas show

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump opted to withdraw the USA 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.

The step comes after Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif traveled to Brussels and met with his British, French and German counterparts to discuss the future of the nuclear deal without the US.

European businesses are anxious that their ties with the USA could be damaged if they continue doing Iranian deals.

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 in becoming a bargaining chip with Washington.

President Jean-Claude Juncker said the commission would revive legislation - known as the blocking statute - which bans European companies from complying with the USA sanctions against Iran and stops foreign court judgments based on these laws being effective in the EU.

EC will maintain its cooperation with Iran while the US Treasury Department has recently announced to European companies that they have been given a six-month deadline to end their investment in Iran.

The European Commission says it has launched "the blocking statute" process to protect Europeans from United States sanctions on Iran as part of efforts to preserve the nuclear deal with Tehran.

It added that European Union energy and climate commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete will travel to Tehran at the weekend.

In the same year, European Union investment in Iran was valued at €20bn.

Additional efforts will encourage European companies to pay money to Iran through transfers with the Central Bank of Iran, and will mobilise financial assistance through the Development Co-operation or Partnership Instrument, to increase ongoing sectoral co-operation.

Last week, the U.S. sanctioned six people and three companies it said had ties to Iran's elite military force.

The White House said that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) provides Iran with opportunities for creating a nuclear bomb by evading all current restrictions.

In pulling out, Trump complained the nuclear deal does nothing to stop Iran's ballistic missile program or its interference in conflicts across the Middle East from Syria to Yemen.

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