The European Commission on Friday proposed to activate a dormant statute to shield European firms doing business with Iran from renewed US sanctions.
In a clear response to the United States move, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that the bloc plans to apply a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with any sanctions the USA will reintroduce against Tehran, Deutsche Welle reported.
"This will allow the EIB to support European Union investment in Iran", it added, noting the measure could help small and medium-sized companies.
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We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process of to activate the "blocking statute" from 1996.
The Commission said the EU measure would come into force within two months, unless the European Parliament and EU governments formally rejected it, but that it could also be activated sooner if there was strong political support.
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"Following the green light of EU leaders at the informal meeting in Sofia (the EU-Western Balkans summit on May 16-17), the European Commission has today taken steps to preserve the interests of European companies investing in Iran and demonstrate the EU's commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) - the Iran nuclear deal", the document said.
The Commission itself will maintain its cooperation with Iran.
Other measures proposed by the Commission, the EU executive, include urging EU governments to make transfers to Iran's central bank and to start the legal process of allowing the European Investment Bank to lend to EU projects in Iran. The goal is to have the measure in force before August 6, 2018, when the first batch of U.S. sanctions take effect.
"As long as the Iranians respect their commitments, the EU will of course stick to the agreement of which it was an architect", said European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, while warning that the USA decision to reimpose sanctions "will not be without effect". "We will have to see whether those remaining in the JCPOA can deliver those benefits to Iran", he said in the Belgian capital on Tuesday.
The 2015 nuclear deal opened Iran to global investments after four decades of sanctions.
Iran's exports of mainly fuel and other energy products to the European Union in 2016 jumped 344 percent to 5.5 billion euros ($6.58 billion) compared with the previous year.