Members' Research Service By / February 1, 2023

EU relations with Iran

On 12 December 2022, the Council of the EU adopted conclusions on Iran.

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Written by Beatrix Immenkamp with Julie Claustre.

Even though the EU and Iran have worked together over the past 4 years to save the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), relations between the two sides have reached a new low. The EU is concerned about the acceleration of Iran’s nuclear programme in violation of the JCPOA and the country’s reluctance to cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition, the Iranian authorities’ violent crackdown on and execution of peaceful protesters has outraged Europeans – and their allies – and drawn new attention to human rights violations in the country.

Iran’s military support for Russia in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine has put the spotlight on Iran’s conventional weapons capabilities. Moreover, Iran continues to stoke tensions in the Middle East, providing military, financial and political support to non-state actors in countries such as Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen, as well as the Gaza Strip.

In response to these concerns, the EU has imposed restrictive measures on an increasing number of high-ranking Iranian individuals and entities under four EU sanctions regimes. Sanctions include an asset freeze and a prohibition on making funds and economic resources available to the listed individuals and entities; individuals are also banned from travelling to the EU.

Nevertheless, in December 2022, EU Member States reaffirmed their commitment to, and continued support for, the full and effective implementation of a restored JCPOA.

The European Parliament has adopted several resolutions critical of human rights violations in Iran, most recently in January 2023, and has called for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to be added to the EU terrorist list, while also expressing its continued support for the JCPOA. After Iran began to sanction certain of its Members in October 2022, Parliament decided in November 2022 that delegations and committees would no longer engage with the Iranian authorities.

Read the complete briefing on ‘EU relations with Iran‘ in the Think Tank pages of the European Parliament.

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