“We in Europe shouldn’t make the mistake to believe that the presidency of Donald Trump is just a short-living mistake. I’m afraid that Trump is representing America much more than Obama represented America. And we should be aware that this policy will probably continue. I mean, the America First policy.”
“What we can see is that this deal is clearly in jeopardy, and with the deal the whole system of non-proliferation is in jeopardy, not only in the Middle East but everywhere. It might change the whole security pattern of the world, it’s a very serious situation.”
Guenter Verheugen — Former vice-president of the European Commission
The American withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal is causing a headache for the European guarantors of the Treaty. For instance, the US is threatening German firms that made large investments in Iran. How will Berlin — and the rest of the EU — deal with this threat? Guenter Verheugen — a former vice-president of the European Commission — offers a ‘realpolitik’ assessment of the situation. The former VP believes that the US is holding EU countries hostage over Iran. He also suggests that this hostage policy will be successful. Follow us on Twitter: @Intel_Today
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EU companies doing business in Iran find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
The European statute that has been activated prohibits EU companies from cancelling their business with Iran due to American sanctions.
So these European companies risk to suffer the consequences brought onto them by the United States, and if they quit Iran, the EU will punish them.
Sophie Shevardnadze: Guenter Verheugen, former Vice-President of the European Commission, welcome to the show. It’s really great to have you with us today.
Guenter Verheugen: Hello Sophie, good to see you. (…)SS: So after Trump took America out of the Iran deal, which means that European companies in Iran may be subject to American sanctions, the EU fired back – activating a law that would block European companies from complying with U.S. decisions on Iran. In your opinion, who is going to ‘out-sanction’ who here, the U.S. or Europe?
GV: I’m afraid that the Americans have the bigger stick here. If you were a European company or a German carmaker, for instance, and if you look at the figures, what kind of business you do in Iran, what kind of business you do in the United States, – you have not much choice, and you will decide not to invest in Iran, you will continue to invest and make business in U.S. And if the European Union really promises to compensate for all the losses, I can promise you: that goes far beyond the financial capacities of the European Union. So I’m really afraid that the American policy of unilateral action, the American policy of taking hostage other nations and companies can be successful in the end.
SS: Regardless of Europe’s countermeasures, do you think the deal will survive without the Americans?
GV: I think, it can. It depends very much on co-operation between the guarantor countries, in particular Russia, China and the European countries. As far as I can see they are committed to do everything they can to keep the deal alive. But for the people in Iran, of course, the question will be – does it pay in the end? But I cannot foresee. What we can see is that this deal is clearly in jeopardy, and with the deal the whole system of non-proliferation is in jeopardy, not only in the Middle East but everywhere. It might change the whole security pattern of the world, it’s a very serious situation. In this situation it would be extremely important to organise co-operation between other partners of the deal that I already mentioned in order to create a counterweight.
SS: In the wake of the U.S. decision on Iran Donald Tusk says that with friends like U.S. you don’t need enemies. Trump said the same can be said about EU. Are U.S. and EU enemies from now on?
GV: Absolutely not. I must say, I know Donald Tusk very well and I like him very much. Normally he’s not using strong words, so I was really surprised. My understanding was that he was really angry about the communication with the Americans.
US holding EU hostage over Iran – Ex-EU commissioner
Former VP of the EU Commission: “US holding EU hostage over Iran”