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31 Jan, 2012 11:47

Iran sanctions bring political unity but economic doom to EU

Any economic losses from the EU’s oil embargo on Iran are outweighed by the benefits of the new sense of European unity ushered in by the sanctions. That’s the view of MEP Martin Callanan of the UK Conservative Party.

The latest sanctions imposed on Iran mean EU member countries will stop buying oil from the Islamic Republic. However Martin Callanan, who is the new head of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group at the European Parliament, believes something even more important has come out of the move – European unity. “We have come together as 27 nations and we are saying to the Iranians: we really must get some assurances on this nuclear program.  It is unacceptable for the rest of the world for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons,” he said.The effectiveness of these new sanctions is under question. Giants like India and China have not agreed to stop buying Iranian oil and these two countries alone have the capacity to consume all the oil produced by Iran. On top of that, India has officially confirmed it is going to pay for Iranian oil with gold, not dollars, and China might follow that example one way or another.Martin Callanan believes that “countries like India, which of course are functioning democracies as well,” will sooner or later give in to pressure from the international community and eventually sign up to the embargo. “We have to be united as a world and say to Iran, this is unacceptable, you will not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons, and we will leave no stone unturned in terms of pursuing this policy,” the British MEP declared.British Petroleum (BP) is lobbying to be exempted so it can continue joint projects with Iran. Europe does need to diversify its hydrocarbon supply, Martin Callanan insists. Iran’s participation in international energy projects is not an obstacle to achieving this goal. This means that Europe wants to sanction Iran and simultaneously co-operate with the country on diversifying energy supply to Europe.The big question now is whether or not Iran will agree to participate in such projects. “We’ve accepted that there will be costs to the West for implementing this policy, and this is one of the costs we have to pay,” Martin Callanan acknowledged.In answer to a question on the related issue of the eurozone crisis, Callanan predicted that Greece would default. Therefore, to save the other EU members, Athens should consider leaving the eurozone as the most effective way to reduce pressure on the EU.“This debt pile has to be reduced considerably,” he said. “The longer we delay this process – the more difficulties are being caused.”Martin Callanan says he understands Germany’s refusal to support the idea of issuing Eurobonds, because attempts to solve a debt problem with more borrowing look like a dead end. The possible adoption of the EU Fiscal Act also does not address the fundamental problems of the EU: too much debt and a competitiveness crisis.The European Stability Mechanism (ESM) that starts its work in July will have €500 billion that will be available for EU countries that might need them. Possibly, the fund might be expanded to €1 trillion.The British MP believes that the fund will not work as an effective firewall against financial trouble if countries like Spain and Italy go down.The European Conservatives and Reformists Group at the European Parliament, which Martin Callanan heads, is guided by an “agenda of realism.”“Our agenda is a realistic acceptance of the limits of European integration,” Martin Callanan declared, calling for power to be returned from the EU back to nation states.