Here’s the official press release. The EU Blocking Regulation, which in its heyday was only sparingly (if ever) enforced with respect to Iran, is now coming to the fore as one of the European Union’s key tools to help EU companies cope with President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. The European Union also announced other measures. Here is the official EU summary of the four action items launched today:
- Launched the formal process to activate the Blocking Statute by updating the list of US sanctions on Iran falling within its scope. The Blocking Statute forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them. The aim is to have the measure in force before 6 August 2018, when the first batch of US sanctions take effect.
- Launched the formal process to remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank (EIB) to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the European Union, in Iran. This will allow the EIB to support EU investment in Iran and could be useful in particular for small and medium-sized companies. All relevant rules and procedures will apply to individual financial operations.
- As confidence building measures, the Commission 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. As a first step, the Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, will travel to Tehran already this weekend. Financial assistance through the Development Cooperation or Partnership Instruments will also be mobilised.
- The Commission is encouraging Member States to explore the possibility of one-off bank transfers to the Central Bank of Iran. This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of US sanctions which could target EU entities active in oil transactions with Iran.
It remains to be seen how the United States will respond, and what impact the four action items will have. The landscape just got murkier, and there are sure to be more twists and turns to come.