Thursday

8th Dec 2022

EU should be 'part of the game' on Iran, Michel says

  • EU council president Charles Michel. 'I want Europe to be part of the game," he said, referring to the EU's role in the Middle East (Photo: Council of the European Union)

EU Council president Charles Michel on Thursday (9 January) urged Iran to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal in a phone call with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, and urged the EU to have a more assertive foreign policy.

"Just spoke with Hassan Rouhani about recent developments. JCPOA remains crucial for global security. I called Iran not to pose irreversible acts," Michel tweeted.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Iran said on Sunday that it was stepping back from its commitments under the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), that was aimed to prevent Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.

The EU's reinforced commitment to the deal comes as tensions spiked after the US killed Iran's key military operative Qassim Suleimani last week.

US president Donald Trump on Wednesday called on the senior players in the EU - France, German and the UK - to "break away from the remnants" of the Iran deal. The US already withdrew from the treaty in 2018.

The former Belgian prime minister defended the nuclear agreement while talking to journalists in Zagreb.

"The pact is not a perfect treaty, not a perfect agreement, but it's an agreement negotiated during more than 10 years. It means it is a channel for negotiations and a channel of communication," he said,

"That's why I had the occasion this morning to have a long discussion with president Rouhani to see how it is possible for the EU to play a stronger role in the region," Michel said.

"It is important for the EU not only to observer what the others would decide for us, but it is important for the EU to be a player, to promote and defend our interest, the stability and security," he added.

Michel said that "even when the US, our strong ally, took the decision to leave the JCPOA, we took the decision at European level to support this agreement, not because we think it is a perfect agreement, but because we think it offers a channel of communication in order to try to reduce the risks in the region".

Michel also told reporters he wants to the EU to play a stronger role in the Middle East.

He said he will be traveling to Turkey and Egypt for talks on Saturday.

Michel said maintaining several channels of communication is in the EU's interest to prevent more conflicts.

"I want Europe to be part of the game," Michel said, talking about the EU's role in the Middle East.

Michel has been quick to call for for de-escalation after the US decision to kill Suleimani.

The EU council chief's efforts come as the bloc aims to play a more assertive role, globally, between China, Russia and an increasingly unpredictable and protectionist US.

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen described her new EU executive as "geopolitical" even though EU member states in the past have struggled to come to an agreement on foreign affairs issues.

Voicing his dissent, Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban told reports in Budapest on Thursday (9 January) he wants the European position on the US-Iran conflict to be more in line with that held by the US and Israel.

"I would like for the European stance, which is not clear on this Iranian issue, to be oriented towards the Israeli-United States stance," Orban said.

EU foreign ministers will meet on Friday to discuss the Iran crisis, aiming to ease tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Macron spars with US and Turkey over Nato

French president Emmanuel Macron clashed with US president Donald Trump and Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Nato, as the future of the alliance begins to fray following Ankara's invasion into north-east Syria in October.

Nuclear arms race threat after EU rebukes Iran

EU powers have triggered a process that could bring the world back to 2006, when sanctions and threats were all that stood in the way of a Middle East nuclear arms race.

Opinion

Pandemic means EU needs to regionalise its Iran policy

The country has become a corona hotspot due to the clergy's stubborn refusal to impose social distancing and to close religious shrines, but also because US sanctions create severe shortages of a medical imports.

Opinion

No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU

The European Commission has asked the member states' leaders assembling in Brussels next week for the customary end-of-year European Council to approve EU candidate status for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Doing so would be a mistake.

Opinion

Serbia now has no choice but to join EU sanctions on Russia

Vladimir Putin himself is somewhat suspicious of Serbia's leader, as are most who deal with the opaque Aleksandar Vucic. The Russian president has preferred to keep his Serbian counterpart compliant, via a tight rein of annually-reviewed gas pricing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region and the African Union urge the COP27 to talk about gender equality
  4. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  5. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  6. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe

Latest News

  1. No, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not ready for the EU
  2. EU takes legal action against China over Lithuania
  3. EU Commission shoring up children's rights of same-sex parents
  4. The military-industrial complex cashing-in on the Ukraine war
  5. EU delays Hungary funds decision, as Budapest vetoes Ukraine aid
  6. Borrell gets pension from MEP fund set for taxpayer bailout
  7. Autocrats make us all less secure
  8. Big Agri's lies: green EU farming not to blame for food insecurity

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  5. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us