To emphasise the EU's ongoing commitment to keeping the Iran nuclear deal – or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – alive, the European Commission has launched two online compliance platforms: the Due Diligence Helpdesk and Sanctions Tool.
High Representative of the EU Josep Borrell stated that 'by developing these initiatives, the EU seeks to strengthen and facilitate legitimate trade between Iran and the EU, in line with the EU's continued efforts under the JCPOA'.
The tools aim to support European businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), interested in trading with Iran in compliance with EU sanctions rules.
Based on a questionnaire, the Sanctions Tool aims to provide EU businesses with (non-binding) guidance on whether their envisaged business opportunity could be affected by EU sanctions against Iran, enabling them to make an initial risk assessment.
The Due Diligence Helpdesk will help SMEs conduct due diligence on their Iranian counterparties and the type of Iran business project to ensure EU sanctions compliance. According to a recent EU press release, the helpdesk will also publish guidelines, organise training and webinars, and support business-matchmaking events.
While this is a promising and positive initiative to encourage European businesses to conduct EU sanctions-compliant business involving Iran, it is not yet clear to what extent using the platforms will help provide to comfort other stakeholders (such as banks, insurances and suppliers) in light of the current crippling US (secondary) sanctions against Iran.