EU, Iran Relationship Warms Up

In a press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Mogherini stressed that the nuclear agreement was “going to open — as it is implemented — a new chapter in the relations between Iran and the European Union.” Indeed, in an op-ed published in The Guardian, Mogherini said she was charged by the EU’s 28 foreign ministers to explore “ways in which the EU could actively promote a more cooperative regional framework” with Tehran.

She also pointed out the key role of the JCPOA in enabling the expansion of topics discussed bilaterally with Iran — a development made possible because of Europe’s “long tradition of cultural and economic relationship with Iran.”

In November, European Parliament President Martin Schulz also traveled to Tehran at the invitation of the country’s parliament. In what constituted the first visit of a head of the EU parliament to Iran, Schulz highlighted, similarly to Mogherini, the “key stage” of EU-Iran relations and the need to widen the range of topics discussed, including regional stability, terrorism, human rights, energy cooperation and economic relations.

In addition to organizing these high-level visits to Tehran, the EU has in the past few months taken other practical steps to enhance ties with Iran on issues other than the nuclear dossier. The establishment of an Iran Task Force at the EEAS, reporting directly to Schmid, constitutes the most important step in this direction.

The Iran Task Force, set up in September, is composed of seven members and led by Hugo Sobral, a Portuguese diplomat and former diplomatic adviser to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. It has “the objective of coordinating the different strands of action of all Iran-related issues” and ensuring coordination with commission services as well as other institutions, third countries and civil society.

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