Publication on the JCPOA and Iran-EU relations

“State of play of EU-Iran relations and the future of the JCPOA”

Authors: Rouzbeh Parsi & Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi
October, 2020

European Union:
Policy Department for External Relations
Directorate General for External Policies of the Union

Abstract

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), spearheaded by the European Union (EU), was a successful multilateral non-proliferation agreement. The hope was that it would also pave the way for dealing with other outstanding issues over which the EU and United States (US) were at loggerheads with Iran. Instead, with the election of President Trump, the main focus has been to save the JCPOA.

As Iran has decreased its compliance with the deal and regional friction hasintensified, particularly as a result of the US maximum pressure campaign, the EU has faced increasing challenges to maintain a working relationship with Tehran and to pursue its strategic objectives on Iran – a tall order even in more conducive circumstances.

While the outcome of the US presidential elections in November 2020 will affect developments thereafter, the EU should shape its policy independent of a return to constructive multilateralism in Washington. It must further develop its strategic autonomy, enhance and expand its interaction with Tehran to ensure the JCPOA’s survival, while also taking a more proactive role in mitigating and mediatingconflictsin the region.