EU Regulations regarding Iran. Latest developments

Political relations are pretty clear between the European Union and Iran. Not long ago, there were restrictive measures imposed by the EU against the state of Iran, measures that followed the sanctions established on Iran by the United Nations Security Council with regard to the nuclear field. For the most part, it was forbidden to trade different categories of goods and services (weapons, products for processing uranium, certain computer programmes etc.). However, by the start of 2016, the EU had lifted all its economical and financial sanctions on Iran with regard to the nuclear field, yet only kept the ones concerning serious human rights violations, for instance visa banning for people responsible for such acts.

There is an actual confusion going on at the moment. Following some “barking” allegations from the American President, it was publicly disclosed that “Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States”. Before jumping to conclusions, an introduction to the context seems necessary.

In short, on the 14th of July 2015, the USA, Iran, Great Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany signed an agreement – the JCPOA (available here: – that essentially provides for lifting certain sanctions previously established on behalf of the state of Iran. The agreement imposed Iran to process uranium and use its nuclear power stations in peace (i.e. without military purposes), in exchange of lifting the sanctions.

Indeed, the American President officially withdrew from the agreement on the 8 May 2018, providing the justification that Iran is currently in the process of developing a nuclear program (unsubstantiated allegation), following that in a time span of 90-180 days, the sanctions are to be reimposed (between the 6 August 2018 and the 4 November 2018). The sanctions concern multiple types of commercial relations and are included in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (available here: A paragraph of this Act that proves itself to be of great interest at present is the one regarding the trade of computer programmes. According to the provision, “the head of an executive agency may not enter into or renew a contract […], for the procurement of goods or services with a person that exports sensitive technology to Iran […]. The term “sensitive technology” means hardware, software, telecommunications equipment or any other technology that the President determines is to be used specifically:

(A) to restrict the free flow of unbiased information in Iran; or

(B) to disrupt, monitor, or otherwise restrict speech of the people of Iran.”

Despite of the American President’s threats, on 18 May 2018, the European Commission took measures for protecting the interests of companies that have commercial relations with Iran; more specifically, on 6 June 2018, the European Commission enacted a blocking statute, effective since 7 August 2018 and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on the same day ( This statute forbids EU companies “to obey the effects of the extra-territorial application of the sanctions imposed by the USA” and represents the legal ground for companies to demand compensation for the damages they suffer by the imposing of these sanctions.

No formalities are necessary for failing to comply to the US provisions (which the Commission finds abusive). Instead, if their compliance is desired, an application to this regard must be submitted and approved by the EU.

This information has been prepared, for our web page, by Ms. Irina Galiș (a student with the Faculty of Law, UBB Cluj-Napoca) during her professional practice programme at Costaș, Negru & Asociații.