Europe and Iran in a Fast-Changing Middle East

The Trump administration’s decision to unilaterally cease compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal and implement a policy of “maximum pressure” towards Iran has scuttled the European Union’s policy of conditional engagement with Tehran. This volume – the outcome of a joint FEPS-IAI project – delves into different dimensions of the current rivalries and geopolitical tensions characterising the Middle East, addressing their implications for Europe. The analysis addresses the growing economic hardship in Iran following the re-imposition of US sanctions and the potential and prospects of EU-Iran cooperation in trade and energy domains. A final report addresses EU–Iran relations in the context of the geopolitical tensions surrounding the US’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal and European interests vis-à-vis Iran and the region. Progressive recommendations targeting EU actors span multiple layers of EU-Iran cooperation, both within and beyond the nuclear domain.

This book is the result of a FEPS-IAI project entitled “Europe and Iran in a fast-changing Middle East: Confidence-building measures, security dialogue and regional cooperation”. Presented at the conference “Europe and Iran: the Challenge of Engagement”, Brussels, 21 June 2019.

Brussels, Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS) and Rome, Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI), June 2019, 145 p.
Publication date: 

Foreword / Ernst Stetter and Nathalie Tocci, p. 7-8
Introduction / Andrea Dessì and Vassilis Ntousas, p. 9-13

1. Back to Crisis Mode: Iran’s Quest to Manage Internal Crises and External Pressures / Adnan Tabatabai, p. 15-37
1. The JCPOA and President Hassan Rouhani’s foreign policy conduct
2. The JCPOA crisis and its effect on Iran’s domestic landscape
3. A new social contract to navigate through times of crisis

2. Regional Geopolitical Rivalries in the Middle East: Implications for Europe / Ellie Geranmayeh, p. 39-56
1. Understanding the position of regional protagonists
2. Bleak trajectory ahead
3. What should Europe do?

3. Iran and the Intra-GCC Crisis: Risks and Opportunities / Luciano Zaccara, p. 57-75
1. The Iranian scapegoat for the current GCC crisis
2. Iran–Qatar relations
3. Are Iranian gains short-lived?
4. Iran’s regional role and future prospects

4. Shaping the Political Order of the Middle East: The Role of Global Actors / Ranj Alaaldin, p. 77-92
1. The rise and decline of US influence
2. The breakdown of the old order

5. Europe and Iran: The Economic and Commercial Dimensions of a Strained Relationship / Cornelius Adebahr, p. 93-110
1. Unfulfilled expectations: EU-Iran trade after the nuclear deal
2. “Maximum pressure” vs. “blocking regulation”: How Washington aims to squeeze Tehran – and how Brussels is responding
3. Mission impossible? The EU tries to preserve relations with Iran while strengthening European autonomy

6. A Last Line of Defence: EU-Iran Relations and the Future of the JCPOA / Riccardo Alcaro and Andrea Dessì, p. 111-138
1. EU–Iran relations and the centrality of the JCPOA
2. A European strategy for Iran

Abbreviations and Acronyms, p. 139-140
Contributors, p. 141-145

Research area