EU Sanctions against Iran: New Wine in Old Bottles?

Abstract: Iran is the first country against which the EU has developed a sanctions’ policy out of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) concerns, starting in 2006. In 2010, departing from previous policies, Europe has adopted “comprehensive” sanctions, in addition to targeted ones, taking a toll on the country as a whole and attempting to diplomatically and financially isolate it. Earlier this year, this coercive approach has been further reinforced with an oil embargo, to be fully implemented next July.

The paper examines the old and new sanctions’ legislation, it provides an analysis of the nature of economic relations between European countries and Iran and explores the potential political and economic impact of the oil embargo. It concludes by showing how, despite publicly endorsing dual-track diplomacy, leaving the door officially open to dialogue, Europe is mostly limiting incentives and increasing pressure on the Iranian regime, in line with American political preferences. This very two conditions, however, might hamper any chance for a peaceful settlement of the nuclear standoff and also be a costly policy for European struggling economies.

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