EU To Use 'Blocking Statute' Against US Sanctions On Iran

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The European Commission has said it will slap import taxes on USA products, including motorcycles and whisky, if Trump moves forward with tariffs on European aluminum and steel.

Polish President Andrzej Duda said here Thursday that his country wanted to see sound relations between the European Union and the United States despite tension over the Iran nuclear deal and trade frictions.

The European Commission's President Jean-Claude Juncker struck a more defiant note calling on Europe to take up leadership of the world and replace the US, whom he said "has lost its vigor".

European Council President Donald Tusk spoke at a news conference in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, on Wednesday before attending an unofficial EU summit.

It also does not recognise any court rulings that enforce American penalties.

"Looking at the latest decisions of President Trump, someone could even think with friends like that who needs enemies", Tusk told reporters.

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Britain, France, Germany, China and Russian Federation were signatories of the 2015 pact and have opposed the USA pullout.

Last week, the United States sanctioned six people and three companies it said had ties to Iran's elite military force.

The European Commission's blocking statute is seen by European governments more as a political weapon than a regulation, because its rules are vague and hard to enforce, serving mainly as a warning to the US.

"Which company is going to risk access to the U.S. market, which is 100 times larger", Ardavan Amir-Alsani, a Paris-based lawyer who specializes in Iran, said in an interview. That could allow more euro-dominated loans to Iran.

The European Commission will initiate a blocking statute - a regulation which was created in 1996 to get around Washington's trade embargo on Cuba.

France's effort has the backing of Germany, whose exports to Iran exceeded $3.5 billion past year.

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French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire's call on Europe to resist the U.S.' self-proclaimed position as the "world's economic policeman" in addition to his question: "Do we want to be vassals who obey decisions taken by the United States while clinging to the hem of their pants?" is an example of the heated anti-American rhetoric that is increasingly prevailing not just among Europe's elites but also across the whole Old Continent. A Dutch container shipping company, an Italian steelmaker and a French oil company all say they've ended business in Iran or that they plan to do so.

Meanwhile, Russia moved to extend its economic influence in Iran.

French energy giant Total's deal, worth up to $5bn, signed to help Iran develop the world's largest gas field.

"We are in a new world. That isn't a sustainable path for us", Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.

Iran, for its part, has stated that it will remain in the deal as have European Union members that were part of the original deal hammered out by then-President Barack Obama.

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