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18 May 2018, 03:39 | Damon Campbell
Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran
The European Commission said it had started the process of renewing a sanctions-blocking measure to protect European business in Iran, after the United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran.
Juncker's announcement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the worldwide deal with Iran, which placed limits on Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Danish shipping giant Maersk Tankers also said Thursday it would cease its activities in Iran, while German insurer Allianz announced plans to wind down its business deals there.
In addition, Jean-Claude Juncker noted that EU leaders had "also made a decision to allow the European Investment Bank to facilitate European companies' investment in Iran" and that the European Commission would continue to cooperate with Iran.
It has also facilitated the ability of the European Investment Bank to support investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Iran.
"We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process to activate the "blocking statute" from 1996. We must do it and we will do it tomorrow morning at 10:30", Juncker said at the summit in Sofia.
The commission said it hopes the statute will be in force before August 6 when the first batch of reimposed USA sanctions take effect.
Iran and EU attempt to salvage deal
The EU executive said on Friday it "launched the formal process to activate the Blocking Statute by updating the list of USA sanctions on Iran falling within its scope".
And, in a bid to reassure the Iranian government of the EU's political commitment to saving the nuclear deal, Energy Commissioner Miguel Canete is visiting Tehran this weekend.
"Guarantees of benefits of the JCPOA should be given to Iran".
European investments in Iran, mainly from Germany, France, and Italy, have jumped by more than 20 billion euros since 2016. Trump vowed to reinstate the previous sanctions and introduce new restrictions should Tehran carry out its nuclear ambitions.
The approach, it said, could ensure Tehran receives its oil-related revenues if U.S. sanctions target European Union firms active in oil transactions with Iran.
French energy giant Total's deal, worth up to $5bn, signed to help Iran develop the world's largest gas field.
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