Top MEP: EU-Iran Free Trade Deal “in not too distant future”

sean kelly mep

Kelly: “We could be talking about a Free Trade Agreement between EU & Iran in the not too distant future”

In this interview, Parliament Street’s Clare Ambrosino hears from Seán Kelly MEP. Seán is Ireland’s only member of the European Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Iran. He is the Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament and was appointed to this role by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny on August 4th, 2014.


Q. How did the election of President Rouhani facilitate these negotiations and eventual deal? How have you found working with him/his administration? How does it differ to that of his controversial predecessor President Ahmadinejad?

A.  A change at the top often means a change of direction & emphasis. Quite clearly, President Rouhani has a completely different vision to his predecessor. This was reflected in his attitude & statements & of course, his administration reflects this. There is a new desire in Iran to engage more openly with the World & a desire to play a Leadership role in the Region. His predecessor had a completely different approach. President Rouhani would have seen the dire consequences this approach had for Iran’s reputation  & more importantly for the lives of its people & the economy of Iran & has shown courage & vision in changing it.


Q. What would the consequences be if the U.S. Congress rejects the P5 + 1 and could you see the other P5 + 1 nations continuing sanctions if they do?

A. It would be a disaster if the US Congress were to reject an agreement but one expects President Obama will have his homework done to ensure it doesn’t happen. US allies are unlikely to deviate from US so will try to keep talking until an agreement is reached that is acceptable to all sides.


Q. What confidence do you have in the Iranians honouring the deal? Do you find the verifications in this deal are sufficient – given the lack of trust between Iran and the West?

A. Trust takes a long time to build. But Iran is chocking due to sanctions. They see vast potential by being able to utilise their resources which will happen if sanctions are lifted. They will try to do enough to ensure this happens. There will be hiccups but Iran is moving on a new road. They won’t go back down the old one, once their economy starts benefitting from new opportunities.


Q. Are you looking forward to how busy you will be as a result of the sanctions being either relieved or phased out?

A. Yes, it would be wonderful to have sanctions being phased out. This will create a whole new dynamic & a triumph for everyone. Iran could become the leading country in the area. We will have much to talk about & it will be very exciting & historical.


Q. What opportunities do you now see in regards to future trade relations between Iran and the EU?

A. Massive trade opportunities both ways. Energy security & diversity are huge issues now for EU, especially as a consequence of Geopolitical situation in Ukraine. Iran can help EU in that regard but also as a channel of supply for other countries supplies in the region. If all works out well, we could be talking about a Free Trade Agreement between EU & Iran in the not too distant future.


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