The EU's relations with Iran

Overview:

Relations between the EU and Iran have been through different stages and most recently, over the last decade, conditioned by the international dispute over Iran's nuclear programme, and the consequent sanctions regime that was in place against Iran. Having reached on 16 January 2016 "Implementation Day" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran's nuclear programme (14 July 2015), the way is now opened for a renewal of broader relations.

Bilateral relations:

Negotiations on the Iranian nuclear programme resulted in an agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 14 July 2015 by the E3+3 (EU, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia China and the United States) with Iran. The agreement is aimed at ensuring the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme while providing for the comprehensive lifting of all UN Security Council sanctions as well as EU and US sanctions related to Iran's nuclear programme.

The Foreign Affairs Council of 20 July 2015, endorsed the JCPOA and also expressed the expectation that this “positive development will open the door to a steady improvement in relations between the European Union, its Member States and Iran, as well as improved Iranian regional and international relations (…)”.

On 16 January 2016 "Implementation Day" was reached and the EU lifted all nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions against Iran. This followed verification by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that Iran had implemented the agreed nuclear-related measures as set out in the JCPOA.

The conclusion and implementation of the JCPOA has opened the way for a renewal of broader relations. This welcome development allows the EU and Iran to start a gradual engagement, which will take place on the basis of the full implementation of the JCPOA by Iran.

A High Level Dialogue was held on 8-9 February 2016 at Vice-Minister/Political Director level, during which future areas of cooperation between the EU and Iran were identified. Exploratory missions at technical level have followed on energy, research and innovation, as well as transport.

On 16 April 2016, EU High Representative and Vice President Federica Mogherini led a high level delegation to Iran. The delegation included EU Commissioners Elżbieta Bieńkowska, in charge of Internal Market and Industry, Violeta Bulc, for Transport, Miguel Arias Cañete, in charge of Climate Action and Energy, Carlos Moedas, for Research, Science and Innovation, Tibor Navracsics, in charge of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, Christos Styliandes, for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management and Karmenu Vella, in charge of Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

The EU delegation agreed with its Iranian counterparts future areas of potential engagement and cooperation, including human rights, economic relations, energy and civil nuclear cooperation, environment, migration, drugs, humanitarian aid, transport, civil protection, science, as well as culture. More broadly, regional issues were also discussed and will also be part of a future agenda of dialogue.

A joint statement between the High Representative and Foreign Minister Zarif was adopted establishing among others regular political consultations as well as sectoral dialogues in different fields from economy to trade, energy to migration and human rights.

As stated by the High Representative in the press conference at the end of the visit:

“We aim at a dialogue that is comprehensive in scope, cooperative in the fields where we have mutual interest, and our citizens have mutual interest, a dialogue that can be critical and open in the areas where we know we disagree, looking for common ground, and overall constructive in tone and in practice. So you can call it a "dialogue of the 4 Cs": comprehensive, cooperative, critical if needed, constructive always.”

To facilitate further cooperation and with a view to preparing the future opening of an EU Delegation an EU liaison team was sent to Tehran on 22 May 2016 and is co-located in the Dutch Embassy.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and its implementation

Since 2003, the High Representative has led diplomatic efforts between the E3/EU+3 and Iran which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) in Vienna on 14 July 2015. The JCPOA will ensure that Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful and if implemented, provides for the comprehensive lifting of UN, EU and US nuclear related sanctions.

Following legislative reviews of the JCPOA in the US and Iran, Adoption Day was declared on 18 October which set in motion the implementation of the provisions of the JCPOA. On Adoption Day the EU adopted the legislative framework to lift all of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions.

The next milestone, Implementation Day was reached on 16 January 2016 after the IAEA verified that Iran had fulfilled its commitments and the first phase of the lifting of all nuclear related sanctions became effective. On Implementation Day the EU legislative framework providing for the lifting of its economic and financial nuclear-related sanctions adopted entered into effect. UN economic and financial nuclear related sanctions and US secondary economic and financial nuclear related sanctions were also lifted.

The next stages of the JCPOA are Transition Day, which will take place 8 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2023) or when the IAEA has reached the Broader Conclusions that all nuclear material in Iran remains in peaceful activities, whichever is earlier, will trigger the lifting of the remaining nuclear-related sanctions, ballistic missile restrictions, and related designations.  On Termination Day, which will occur 10 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2025), the UNSC will conclude consideration of the Iran nuclear issue and UNSC resolution 2231 (2015) will be terminated. 

Under the JCPOA, a Joint Commission was established consisting of all members of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The High Representative will coordinate the work of the Joint Commission which will address potential problems and disputes. Under the Joint Commission a Procurement Working group has been established. The group is coordinated by a representative of the High Representative.

Main documents of the negotiations with Iran:

Previous Documents:

 


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Multimedia

Statement on the "Implementation Day" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action

Statement by Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the EC, on the "Implementation Day" of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.