European Union moves to shield European Union firms from USA sanctions against Iran

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The European Commission said it had started the process of renewing a sanctions-blocking measure to protect European business in Iran, after the United States reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to circumvent Washington's trade embargo on Cuba, which prohibits European Union companies and courts from complying with specific foreign sanction laws.

President Donald Trump last week pulled Washington out of the 2015 global deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program in return for easing sanctions.

The "blocking statute" is a 1996 regulation originally created to get around Washington's trade embargo on Cuba.

A blocking statute is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder the application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction and is widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on Washington not to punish European firms that continue doing business with Iran.

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.

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But companies around the world which invested in Iran after sanctions were lifted are now faced with a hard choice as Washington has threatened to punish firms that violate US sanctions by dealing with Tehran.

The measure represents the first practical step towards saving the Iran nuclear deal taken by the EU.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, however, said she could not talk about giving Iran guarantees for the economic benefits of the 2015 agreement.

The European Commission has begun work to implement a law which prohibits European companies from adhering to USA sanctions against Iran, a move to help keep the Iran nuclear agreement intact and to defend European corporate interests. The countries' leaders have already promised to protect businesses in order to keep the agreement in place, and have now joined other EU partners at a summit in Sofia, Bulgaria, to discuss a co-ordinated European response.

Iran has dismissed those conditions and warned that there was not much time for Europe to deliver on providing the Islamic Republic with necessary assurances.

European investments in Iran, mainly from Germany, France, and Italy, have jumped by more than 20 billion euros since 2016.

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