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The measures come days after EU-Iran talks over how to take the nuclear deal out of "intensive care", which were attended by UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

In a clear response to the United States move, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has announced that the bloc plans to apply a 1996 law that would prohibit European companies from complying with any sanctions the USA will reintroduce against Tehran, Deutsche Welle reported.

The European Union has relaunched an old law to try to protect European businesses at risk of U.S. sanctions if they continue to trade with Iran.

A blocking statute is a law enacted in a local jurisdiction that attempts to hinder the application of a law made by a foreign jurisdiction and is widely seen as an attempt to put pressure on Washington not to punish European firms that continue doing business with Iran.

The European Commission has started the formal process to remove obstacles for the European Investment Bank to decide under the EU budget guarantee to finance activities outside the EU, in Iran. By re-introducing it now, the European Union is seeking to ban firms respecting U.S. sanctions and make related USA court rulings non-effective in the EU.

The European Commission said Friday it is taking steps to shield EU companies doing business in Iran after the US government abandoned an global nuclear deal and warned that it could impose sanctions on companies trading with Tehran. Iran has warned that a loss of European Union business will force it to pull out of the accord, under which it agreed to stop enriching uranium in return for greater trade with the West.

European businesses will be sheltered from the fallout of Donald Trump's decision to pull the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal under a previously unused EU trade protection law.

"The American sanctions will not be without effect".

The Commission said European Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Canete will meet Iranian officials in Tehran during a three-day trip from May 18 to try to reassure Iran and strengthen energy relations.

UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson cast doubt on the EU's ability to prevent the re-imposition of United States sanctions that also seek to punish foreign companies for doing business with Iran. The EU will remain committed to the Iran nuclear deal, the European Commission said on Friday. It has also facilitated the ability of the European Investment Bank to support investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Iran.