Since 2006, the EU High Representative has led diplomatic efforts between the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) and Iran, which led to the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear program (JCPOA) in Vienna on 14 July 2015. The JCPOA is designed to ensure that Iran’s nuclear programme will be exclusively peaceful and provides for the comprehensive lifting of UN, EU and US nuclear-related sanctions.

  • Image
    Former EU High Representative/Vice President Mogherini announces the conclusion of the JCPOA with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, July 2015

    Former EU High Representative/Vice President Mogherini announces the conclusion of the JCPOA with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif, July 2015

The JCPOA and its implementation

On 20 July 2015, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2231(2015) regarding the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), agreed by Iran and the E3/EU+3. This resolution endorses the JCPOA, allowed for certain exemptions to existing restrictive measures and defines the schedule and commitments to be undertaken by all parties to lead to the termination of restrictive measures against Iran.

Following legislative reviews of the JCPOA in the US and Iran, Adoption Day was declared on 18 October 2015 which set in motion the implementation of the provisions of the JCPOA. On Adoption Day the EU adopted the legislative framework to lift all of its nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions.

The next milestone, Implementation Day was reached on 16 January 2016 after the IAEA verified that Iran had fulfilled its commitments. On Implementation Day the EU legislative framework providing for the lifting of economic and financial nuclear-related sanctions entered into effect. UN financial nuclear-related sanctions and US secondary nuclear-related sanctions were also lifted. A comprehensive Information Note on the lifting of sanctions providing clarity to EU business operators on the new regulatory environment was issued on the same day.

The next stage of the JCPOA is Transition Day, which will take place 8 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2023) or when the IAEA has reached the broader conclusion that all remaining nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities – whichever is earlier. This will trigger the lifting of the remaining nuclear-related sanctions, ballistic missile restrictions, and related designations.

Finally, on Termination Day, which will occur 10 years after Adoption Day (i.e. in 2025), remaining EU measures will be terminated, the UNSC will conclude consideration of the Iran nuclear issue and UNSC resolution 2231 (2015) will be terminated.

Under the JCPOA, a Joint Commission was established consisting of all members of the E3/EU+3 and Iran. The EU High Representative/Vice President coordinates the work of the Joint Commission, which oversees JCPOA implementation and addresses potential problems and disputes. Under the Joint Commission, a Procurement Working Group, a Technical Working Group, an Arak Working Group, and a Sanctions Working Group have been established. All groups except for the Arak Working Group are coordinated by a representative of the High Representative.

On 8 May 2018, the President of the United States announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Therefore, as of 9 May, the United States does not participate in any JCPOA-related activities or meetings.

On 21 December 2020, participants of the JCPOA acknowledged at ministerial level the prospect of a return of the US to the JCPOA and underlined their readiness to positively address this in a joint effort.

The coordinator has been leading diplomatic talks in Vienna, since April 2021, to negotiate the return of the United States to the JCPOA and to ensure once again the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides.

Sanctions imposed by the EU in view of the human rights situation in Iran, support for terrorism and other grounds are not part of the JCPOA, and remain in place.

JCPOA Information Note

JCPOA Information Note (all EU languages)

JCPOA Information Note (all EU languages)

(bg) (cs) (da) (de) (el) (en) (es) (et) (fi) (fr) (hr) (hu) (it) (lt) (lv) (mt) (nl) (pl) (pt) (ro) (sk) (sl) (sv)

The European Union remains committed to support the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA including by the lifting of nuclear-related economic and financial sanctions and engaging with the private sector and economic operators, especially banks, to promote growth in trade and investment. In particular, the extensive guidance provided in form the Information Note on EU sanctions to be lifted under the JCPOA ensures that the regulatory framework is clear.

The publication of relevant guidelines by the EU is foreseen by the JCPOA (paragraph 27) and occurred on 16 January 2016.

Find out more: What has the EU done to preserve the JCPOA?

More information