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

Djupanalys 30-10-2020

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 has intensified, 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 rturn 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 mediating conflicts in the region.