EU launches process for activating Iran Blocking Statute

EU CommissionWe reported yesterday that the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker had announced that the EU Commission will “[launch] the process [of activating] the ‘blocking statute’ from 1996”, in order to “protect European companies” from the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, in light of US President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA and to reimpose US sanctions on Iran.

In a press release issued today, the Commission has announced that it has “acted on four fronts” to mitigate the “impact of US sanctions on European businesses” and to “maintain the growth of trade and economic relations between the EU and Iran”:

  1. It has launched the formal process to activate the Blocking Statute by updating the list of US sanctions on Iran falling within its scope. The Blocking Statute “forbids EU companies from complying with the extraterritorial effects of US sanctions, allows companies to recover damages arising from such sanctions from the person causing them, and nullifies the effect in the EU of any foreign court judgements based on them”. The aim is for the blocking measure to come into force before 6 August 2018 (date on which the first tranche of US sanctions take effect).
  1. It has launched the process for removing obstacles for the European Investment Bank to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the EU, in Iran.
  1. As “confidence building measures”, the Commission will “continue and strengthen the ongoing sectoral cooperation with, and assistance to, Iran, including in the energy sector and with regard to small and medium-sized companies”.
  1. The Commission will encourage member states to explore the possibility of one-off bank transfers to the Central Bank of Iran (“this approach could help the Iranian authorities to receive their oil-related revenues, particularly in case of US sanctions which could target EU entities active in oil transactions with Iran”).

The EU Parliament and Council will have 2 months in which to object to the first two measures above, once proposed, before they enter into force.

This entry was posted in Iran, Latest EU Measures, USA by Maya Lester QC. Bookmark the permalink.

About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC has a wide ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. As the most recent (2016) Chambers & Partners directory put it, she "owns the world of sanctions". She spent 2011-12 in New York at Columbia Law School lecturing and writing on sanctions. She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL.

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