European Union shields businesses from fallout of Trump's nuclear sanctions on Iran

Europe to exempt its firms from US sanctions on Iran

The Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, ) signed by Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - the US, France, Britain, Russia and China - plus Germany on July 14, 2015, imposes strict restrictions on Iran's nuclear program in return for the loosening of economic sanctions.

The Commission said it would also keep aid money flowing to Iran, part of its efforts to uphold Europe's side of the 2015 nuclear deal, which offers sanctions relief in return for Tehran shutting down its capacity, under strict surveillance by the United Nations nuclear watchdog, to stockpile enriched uranium for a possible atomic bomb.

Under the "blocking statute", companies hit by sanctions will also be able to seek compensation and won't have to comply with any U.S. court orders against them.

US President pulled out of the Iran nuclear accord and gave businesses around the world notice to end their dealings with Tehran.

The European Union tries to save the Iran nuclear deal and protect EU companies investing in the country by launching a process to activate its blocking statute that bans any EU company from complying with US sanctions and does not recognize court rulings that enforce USA penalties.

Brussels also needs to prove that Washington can not dictate how European businesses operate.

"This approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of USA sanctions which could target European Union entities active in oil transactions with Iran", the Commission said, referring to what it called "one-off" bank transfers to Iran's central bank.

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The European Parliament and the Council of the EU will decide to approve or reject the proposals within two months, ahead of the first batch of US sanctions taking effect on August 6.

"But the American sanctions will not be without effect".

This mechanism, dating back to 1996 and never used, adopted at the time to circumvent the embargo on Cuba, allows European companies and courts not to submit to regulations relating to sanctions taken by third countries.

Where do Europe's leaders stand?

It remains to be seen exactly how the European Union will activate the Blocking Regulation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel acknowledged the deal "certainly has weaknesses", but said that sticking to it was the best way forward.

"We're not going to force French businesses to stay in Iran".

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