The European Commission recently adopted a first package of €18 million for projects in support of sustainable economic and social development in the Islamic Republic of Iran, including €8 million assistance to the private sector.
As reported by the European sources, these projects are the first of a wider package of €50 million for Iran, aiming to support our country to address key economic challenges. These projects are defined as part of the renewed cooperation and engagement between the European Union and Iran following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said: “Since the renewal of the EU-Iran relations as a result of the Iran nuclear deal, cooperation has developed in many sectors. We are committed to sustain it and this new package will widen economic and sectoral relations in areas that are of direct benefit to our citizens”.
Activities supporting the private sector will include support to high-potential Iranian Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), the development of selected value chains, and technical assistance to Iran’s Trade Promotion Organization.
The European sources noted that the European Commission will also provide technical support in the area of environmental challenges for €8 million and support drug harm reduction for €2 million.
The projects will be implemented by the International Trade Centre, EU Member State agencies, and other organizations in close cooperation with Iranian counterparts. In this regard, there are some points that need to be taken into consideration.
First, the European authorities are keeping to “buy time” in order to deliberately postpone their “package of proposals” which was supposed to be offered to the Iranian officials much earlier. We can clearly see that they are not the least in a hurry to come forth with this package.
The reason for the adoption of this tactic by the European authorities is clear: they want to measure the impact of US secondary sanctions on the Iranian economy on the one hand, and on the other hand, they intend to observe the new political situation in Washington following the mid-term elections. These two factors has caused them to be basically reluctant to provide Iran with immediate and timely proposals.
Although our country’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said that there’s a difference between the recent support package and the package of proposals, but we should not forget that the European authorities are trying to make us accept the former for the latter.
The European troika and in general, all the European players consider the recent support package as an excuse for “buying more time”. Therefore, accepting this package is not in the interest of our country. As French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized, for the time being, European officials are not interested in coming up with the final package to Iran!
The next point is about the nature of the Europeans’ support package for Iran. European officials have made specific maneuvers on their “support package.” Indeed, what purpose does this package serve? While the European Union, and in particular the European troika (Germany, Britain and France) have made a significant delay in offering their “package of proposals” to Iran, what does their maneuver on this support package mean? Interestingly, Federica Mogherini spoke of the EU’s commitment to working with Iran! Did the EU’ High Representative forget the European Union approach towards Iran and the nuclear deal?
Everyone remembers that the European authorities, even before Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, were in agreement with all the cruel and illegal actions of the President of the United States on “changing the JCPOA”. The same thing made Trump bolder to pursue his policies on Iran. Even some news suggest that there is still a secret deal between the US Department of State and the Foreign Offices of Germany, Britain and France.
Meanwhile, the French have the closest cooperation with American officials. Many international experts and analysts believe that the French’s insistence on not submitting the package to Iran by November is the result of a back-to-back coordination between the White House and the Elysee Palace.
In any case, we should accept that even after the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal, European authorities have looked at the JCPOA as a leverage for their possible dealings with Washington. The delay of the European authorities in offering the package of proposals to Iran can also be analyzed in this regard.
What is certain is that the European Union should focus on its main obligations rather than maneuvering on its support package. These obligations include providing objective guarantees regarding the sale of Iranian oil, having bank ties with Iran, etc. This is while the European Union has not yet offered any kind of objective guarantees, and this issue that can’t be simply ignored in analyzing the EU performance.