EU- Iran relations after the nuclear deal

01 May 2016

EFD Senior Counsellor John Duhig and Nima Rashedan participated in a three-day workshop focussing on future EU-Iran relations, a pro-business discussion with many representatives of European and Iranian academic and business interests present, as well as EU institutional officials, lawyers and a representative of the Iranian embassy in Brussels.

The signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action between Iran and global powers on 14 July 2015 was a major turning point in the emerging strategic landscape of the Middle East. The ‘nuclear deal’ led to the lifting by the EU and the US of nuclear-related sanctions and is now operational. Other sanctions remain in place, however. Nevertheless, unhindered by US competition, European trade delegations have entered into a latter-day gold rush, led by the promise of the biggest untapped market in the world. As such, the EU has both an opportunity and a responsibility to help Iran reintegrate properly into the international system.

But, faced with a system of governance where the lines of command and control are not always clear to the outside observer, Europe stands to lose if it continues to pursue its uncoordinated approach towards the Islamic Republic.

This report offers recommendations to guide the EU towards a comprehensive EU strategy for relations with Iran. It maintains that there is no other option but to keep universal values and the rule of law at the core of the emerging bilateral relationship. In fact, the protection of the economic rights of European traders and investors would allow the EU to push for wider reforms and the normalisation of relations.