EU Unites on Iran With Moves to Counter Sanctions

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"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 document says.

Some will come into effect by early August, with other sanctions coming into force by the beginning of November.

The European Commission will launch the process of activating a law that bans European companies and courts from complying with U.S. sanctions against Iran, after Washington pulled out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

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.

Juncker's announcement comes after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the worldwide deal with Iran, which placed limits on Tehran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

The measure has been threatened but never implemented, and is viewed as a political weapon more than a regulation because its rules are vague and hard to enforce; the global reach of the USA financial system and the us presence of many European companies also raise questions about its effectiveness. However, the Cuba row was settled politically, so the blocking regulation's effectiveness was never put to the test, and its value may lie more as a bargaining chip with Washington.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, the remaining parties have all pledged to stick to the deal if Tehran respects its terms.

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

During talks in Brussels on Tuesday, Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said efforts to save the deal were on the "right track".

It is also encouraging members of the bloc to look into one-off bank transfers to the central bank of Iran to help authorities their "receive their oil-related revenues".

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

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that it might be possible to compensate small and medium-sized firms, but not all businesses, from United States sanctions.

In a Friday statement, the Commission also said it "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".

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