The European Union is considering laws to protect European companies trading with Iran in the wake of new U.S. sanctions.

The EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced plans to enact a set of laws that “seek to prevent European companies from complying with any sanctions the US may reintroduce against Iran,” Germany’s state-run broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported on Friday.

EU Commission President Juncker wants to put in place a so-called ‘blocking statute’ that will shield European companies violating sanctions from prosecution by the U.S. authorities.

The legal framework, originally developed in 1996 to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Cuba and Libya, will now be enacted to protect European businesses operating in Iran. The framework will effectively “prohibit” European “companies from respecting US sanctions,” Deutsche Welle confirmed.

The EU law may come into effect within the next two months, the TV network Euronews reported.

Following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the 2016 Iran nuclear deal earlier this month, European countries like France and Germany have been scrambling to save their business interests in Iran. “[I]f it’s America first, and they put their economic interest before others, then they have to expect Europe to define their own interests and fight for them,” German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Friday.

German and French companies are big beneficiaries of the Iran deal. Carmakers Daimler and Peugeot have set up manufacturing plants in the country. Siemens bagged a huge contract to upgrade Iran’s railway network. Franco-German aircraft maker Airbus signed a $27 billion deal to supply airliners to Tehran.

Following President Trump’s decision, the U.S. advised German companies to stop trading with Iran. “US sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran’s economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately,” Ambassador Richard Grenell, the U.S. envoy to Germany, said.

German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported EU Commission President Juncker’s plans to protect European companies violating U.S. sanctions on Iran:

European Union Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced Thursday that the bloc plans to reactivate a law that would seek to prevent European companies from complying with any sanctions the US may reintroduce against Iran.

Juncker’s announcement came during the second day of an EU meeting in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which has already been marked by sharp criticism from European leaders of American President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the US out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. […]

In Thursday’s announcement, Juncker said: “As the European Commission we have the duty to protect European companies. We now need to act, and this is why we are launching the process to activate the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996.”

Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel traveled to Russia in an attempt to enlist President Vladimir Putin’s support for her bid to save the troubled Iran deal. Earlier this month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in Moscow to discuss the fallout of the U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal. Both Russia and Germany have huge business interests in Iran. Germany wants to play a bigger role in Iran’s oil and manufacturing sectors, while Russia is a major weapons suppliers to the Mullah regime.

Brussels’ actions to protect French and German business interests once again reveals the true nature of the EU. The union was not forged to build a commonwealth of European nation states prospering side-by-side, it was devised as a tool to further German and French interests in the region and on the world stage. With French President Emmanuel Macron still learning the ropes and eager to please German Chancellor Merkel, Berlin is calling the shots in Brussels. Merkel-led Germany effectively dictates continental Europe’s migrant, fiscal, and foreign policy.

In the short term, EU legal statutes could protect German, French, or other European companies from making lucrative deals with Tehran. A nuclear-armed and expansionist Iran, however, will pose a greater threat to European countries than it will to the United States. With Hezbollah running Lebanon and Assad ruling most parts of Syria, Iran is projecting military power from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean.

A Merkel-Putin alliance to defy President Trump on Iran or Juncker’s sanction-busting law will only fuel Islamic Republic’s geopolitical ambitions.

Watch: It’s ‘possible’ US would sanction European countries, says National Security Adviser John Bolton

[Cover image via YouTube]


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