European Union to Move Friday to Block US Sanctions on Iran

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The EU's blocking statute bans any EU company from complying with USA sanctions and does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties. "We now need to act and this is why we are launching the process to activate the "blocking statute" from 1996", Juncker said during Thursday's meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria. "We are looking for technical solutions to protect our companies", Ms. Grybauskaite said.

Washington is re-imposing strict sanctions on Iran, which were lifted under a 2015 worldwide deal to control the country's nuclear ambitions.

The Commission said in a statement it had 'launched the formal process to activate the Blocking Statute by updating the list of US sanctions on Iran falling within its scope, ' referring to an European Union regulation from 1996.

Juncker's announcement came during the second day of an EU meeting in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, which had already been marked by sharp criticism from European leaders over American President Donald Trump's decision to pull the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

He added that the legislation was created to deal with "extra-territorial" sanctions when they have an impact on the EU.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington quit the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, which curbed Tehran's nuclear activity in exchange for lifting the UN Security Council's sanctions and unilateral restrictions introduced by the US and the EU.

But Mr Trump has denounced the "horrible" deal, and now Washington is re-imposing the strict sanctions.

For firms already operating in Iran, there is a period of 3 to 6 months to end the business, otherwise they will be denied access to the U.S. market.

USA individuals and entities are barred from doing business with them following the move.

"We must act now" - quoted Juncker DW.

What do the sanctions mean for Europe?

"They should continue to have this freedom", he added, making it clear that European companies will not be subject to United States sanctions, even if that decision is ultimately up to the US.

Some of Europe's biggest firms had rushed to do business with Iran after the nuclear deal took effect.

Now, there are fears that billions of dollars' worth of trade and thousands of jobs could be jeopardised.

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