EU sticks to nuclear deal and focusses on trade with Iran

The meeting on Tuesday evening in Brussels between EU/E3 (France, Germany and the United Kingdom) and the Iranian foreign minister was described by EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini as constructive and positive. Both sides are eager to stick to the nuclear deal and to continue trading with each-other. This comes as no surprise as the major issues of concern, currently outside the nuclear deal, were not even raised and discussed.

The E3 powers stated last week that these issued needed to be addressed. Mogherini’s spokesperson has repeatedly said that the issues are being addressed or would be addressed, unclear what.

Instead Mogherini made it clear, at a late press conference on Tuesday evening (15 May), that the intention was never to raise any other issues with Iran. “With the nuclear deal in place, we are in a better position to address other issues,” she claimed, “but they should be discussed separately. What will happen in the future, we’ll see.”

Opportunities to discuss them have not been missing. In the last days, Mogherini has spoken on the phone with the Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. On Tuesday morning she met him privately in what was described as a good meeting. The foreign minister himself was absent at the press conference.

Mogherini took only a few questions and did not mention the looming risk of war in the region because of Iran’s destabilizing activities, especially its military build-up in Syria since the signature of the nuclear deal. Measures are required to de-escalate the situation there before it gets out of control and EU could use its leverage on Iran to make it change course.

The EU/E3 – Iran meeting was all about economy and developing economic relations with Iran despite the threat of US sanctions. Mogherini listed a number of issues on which expert discussions already have started, with a view to arriving at practical solutions in the next few weeks.

Exports from the EU to Iran increased last year but is still a fraction of total EU exports. Iran is dependent on economic relations with the EU to develop its ailing infrastructure.

However, Mogherini could not give any guarantees to Iran. “We discussed the concrete steps that we can take, the efforts we can make in a difficult environment”, she said. If Iran keeps the nuclear deal, it should receive sanction relief, was her message. Whether the Iranian people will reap the economic benefits of the deal is another matter.

Next opportunity for Mogherini to explain her policy on Iran will come already at the meeting of the college of commissioners on Wednesday morning and the EU leaders’ dinner in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Wednesday evening. The nuclear deal will also be on the agenda of next Foreign Affairs Council on 28 May 2018.

EU’s list of economic measures

Maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran

The continued sale of Iran's oil and gas condensate petroleum products and petrochemicals and related transfers

Effective banking transactions with Iran

Continued sea, land, air and rail transportation relations with Iran;

The further provision of export credit and development of special purpose vehicles in financial banking, insurance and trade areas

The further development and implementation of Memoranda of Understanding and contracts between European companies and Iranian counterparts;

Further investments in Iran

The protection of EU economic operators and ensuring legal certainty

Further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran.

M. Apelblat
The Brussels Times

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