European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said the EU was willing to use legislation that would make it illegal for European companies to comply with USA sanctions imposed on Iran.
Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, meanwhile said Wednesday that meetings with European Union leaders on salvaging the nuclear deal sent a strong political message but must now be turned into action.
Trump has effectively hijacked the agenda of the meeting in Bulgaria, which was originally meant to discuss ties with the Balkans, amid the worst rift in transatlantic relations since the 2003 Iraq war.
"Looking at latest decisions of [Trump] someone could even think: with friends like that who needs enemies", wrote Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.
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With Trump's cabinet being increasingly populated by the likes of National Security Adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who have long pushed for regime change in Iran, the USA position is becoming more at odds with those of Europe, Russia, and China. He also suggested the European Union owes Trump a debt of gratitude for helping Europe to drop "all illusions".
Meanwhile the European Union is still trying to win exemptions from tariffs on steel and aluminium exports.
Because the JCPOA was supposed to act as an economic bridge for Iran into western economies that had typically followed the US path of sanctions and suspicion, without European participation, a post-US JCPOA would likely fail and be replaced by intensified Russo-Chinese cooperation with Iran, a stronger Iran-Turkey partnership next door and a pan-western sanctions war against Iran. Here again, unity is our greatest strength. "The EU and United States are friends and partners, therefore USA tariffs can not be justified on the basis of national security", he said.
But what European leaders have not yet grasped is that if a bloc that has for decades been so inexorably tied with the USA seeks to now broader its geopolitical portfolio, it must rapidly engage in expanded economic ties with China and also Russian Federation. Tensions came to a head with the US president's decision announced last week to pull out of the landmark Iran nuclear accord which the remaining signatories-Russia, China, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, along with the EU-say is working and they will strive to keep in place. It is absurd to even think that Europe could be a threat to the United States. "But we need to be sure that we have done everything in our power, and within the limits of the worldwide trade rules, to avoid a negative scenario", Tusk said. "We did discuss the possibility of applying our blocking statute".