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This week the European Union announced new sanctions against Iran. The sanctions are one part of the EU’s strategy to pressure Iran to resume negotiations on its nuclear program. The United Nations imposed a fourth round of sanctions on Iran last month, but the EU’s go farther, affecting the energy, transport and finance sectors. While American investment in Iran has decreased in recent years, the EU is Iran’s largest trading partner and the new sanctions could have a significant impact on many European economies.

The United States also imposed new sanctions on Iran this month, with the goals of halting financing for the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps that oversees missile and nuclear programs as well as curbing even further investment in Iran’s energy sector. They also target federal contractors that do business with Iran.

Learn more about the sanctions on Monday, August 2 when the Council hosts Jillian Burns, the Acting Director of the Iran Office of the State Department. She will discuss U.S. policy towards Iran, offering insight into the effectiveness of current sanctions and exploring Iran’s role in the region.

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John Bruton, former Irish Prime Minister and current EU Ambassador to the United States, urged Congress on Monday to refrain from any “Buy American” provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act now headed to the Senate. Bruton expressed the EU’s concerns over such action, saying that if approved, the measure would set a “dangerous precedent” for protectionist policies. A BBC article today quotes Ambassador Bruton as saying that “Nobody will take this lying down.” And that it would take the world on the same exact path that we took in the 1930s – when, Burton believes, retaliatory protectionism caused the Great Depression to last years longer than it might have otherwise.

Ambassador Bruton shared these same thoughts when he joined us at the Council on Friday to talk about what the new administration in Washington might mean for transatlantic relations. He spoke about ways in which governments on both sides of the Atlantic can turn a series of separate problems into a chain of interlinked opportunities – particularly regarding the financial crisis of late. Bruton warned that this “Buy American” clause would sap global confidence and trigger more protectionist policies at the very time that we should be opening up and working together to turn this crisis into an opportunity for global cooperation.

FT also has an interesting blog on the “Buy American” debate here.

Update: CBS News posted a clip of our Council program with Bruton – watch here.

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