A blocking statute is a law of one jurisdiction intended to hinder application there of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction. A blocking statute was proposed by the European Union in 1996 to nullify a US trade embargo on Cuba and sanctions related to Iran and Libya which affected countries trading with the US and with the named countries. The 1996 statute was not enacted as the disagreements were settled by other means.
A blocking statute shields companies in its jurisdiction against sanctions by prohibiting them from respecting the sanctions, and not recognising foreign court rulings enforcing them.
European Union blocking statute
EU Blocking Statute was originally introduced in 1996 to "counteract" the US' sanctions imposed against Cuba, Iran, and Libya.
On 7 August 2018, the EU enacted an updated blocking statute to nullify US sanctions on countries trading with Iran, after the US announced sanctions against such countries following its withdrawal from an agreement permitting trade if Iran curtailed its nuclear programme. The process of updating the EU Blocking Statute was commenced by adding to its scope on 6 June 2018 the extraterritorial sanctions the US re-imposed on Iran. The European Commission said:
...We are determined to protect European economic operators engaged in legitimate business with Iran, in accordance with EU law and with UN Security Council resolution 2231,” the European Commission stated on Monday...This is why the European Union’s updated Blocking Statute enters into force on 7 August to protect EU companies doing legitimate business with Iran from the impact of US extra-territorial sanctions.
The 2018 blocking statute essentially prohibits EU companies from "direct" or "indirect" (via subsidiaries or intermediary persons) compliance with the laws listed in US sanctions annex. It also does not recognize any verdicts by courts that enforce US penalties. A to-be-established clearing house will, through a special-purpose vehicle set up for this purpose, facilitate trade with Iran by European companies, bypassing US sanctions.
European governments regard the blocking statute as "more of a political weapon than a regulation", since, it wrote, the blocking statute's rules were "vague and difficult to enforce". A senior US administration official said they were not "particularly concerned by" the imposition of the blocking statute.
- Council Regulation (EC) No 2271/96 of 22 November 1996 protecting against the effects of the extra-territorial application of legislation adopted by a third country, and actions based thereon or resulting therefrom
- "Updated Blocking Statute in support of Iran nuclear deal enters into force". Europa.eu. European Commission Press Release Database. 6 August 2018. Retrieved 7 August 2018.
- Craig, Ashley W.; Beck, Jochen; Ruessmann, Laurent. "International Firms Caught Between U.S. Iran Sanctions and EU Blocking Statute". Lexology. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
- "EU blocking US sanctions against Iran to protect European companies". RT International. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
- "EU Outlines Measures to Counter American Sanctions Against Iran". Financial Tribune. 16 November 2018. Archived from the original on 18 November 2018. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Emmott, Robin. "In 1990s redux, EU to consider blocking U.S. sanctions over Iran". Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
- Riley-Smith, Ben; Ensor, Josie (6 August 2018). "America dismisses EU 'blocking statute' as Iran sanctions finally bite". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
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