European Union leaders will explore options on Wednesday for keeping the Iran nuclear deal alive and shielding their reviving economic cooperation with Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the pact, Reuters reports.
But the 28 EU leaders are not expected to make any quick decisions during their first meeting on the matter since Trump quit the accord, highlighting how U.S. clout in international trade and finance limits the Europeans’ scope for action.
“I would like our debate to reconfirm without any doubt that as long as Iran respects the provisions of the deal, the EU will also respect it,” the chairman of the gathering, Donald Tusk, said before the meeting in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.
The leaders of Britain, France and Germany - the three EU signatories of the 2015 deal, which gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program but which Trump dismissed as “the worst deal ever” - will brief their peers.
The head of the bloc’s executive, Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission, will also present options the leaders have to shield European investments in Iran and the slowly-reviving economic cooperation, which many EU states hope to benefit from.
These include protecting European companies dealing with Iran from U.S. sanctions, which in practice would be very difficult, allowing the European Investment Bank to invest there and coordinating euro-denominated credit lines from EU states.
Foreign ministers of Germany, France and Britain met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels on that on Tuesday and tasked their experts to come up with measures for a meeting of their deputies in Vienna next week.