This website is an archive of the work of Marietje Schaake in the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019. Marietje can be reached at

Plenary speech on Iran and its nuclear programme

Mr President, Iran replied to the most recent EU sanctions with surprise, a surprise not only mentioned by officials but also reflected in the further decline in the value of the currency, as the EU remained united in its sanctions package of 23 January. The EU is strong when it stands united and leads, as the Vice-President/High Representative has said. Let us see more of it.

However, isolating Iran is not a success or goal as such. The ALDE Group would urge the Vice-President/High Representative to work with Turkey and other partners, to do everything possible, to use all diplomatic means available to encourage Iranian officials to engage in meaningful negotiations over the nuclear issue. This also means looking into different ways in which Iran might be persuaded, and not just at sanctions.

The EU should also look at having a permanent representation in Iran and eventually open an EU representation on the ground, to relay more directly our joint concerns over human rights violations, besides our vital role in the E3+3 negotiations. May I remind some Members on the conservative side of this House especially, that sanctions are an ultimate means and not a goal in and of themselves. I am proud and glad that the EU has always clearly distinguished between seeking to impact individuals with responsibilities for either the nuclear programme or human rights violations, but not the Iranian population. They, after all, feel largely unrepresented by their political, military or religious leaders. It is therefore even more important that the EU acts independently of the United States, especially in an election year. The US has consistently chosen different sanctions packages to the EU, but the US sanctions also impact EU businesses by imposing not only direct but also indirect sanctions. I believe food and medicine should always be able to reach the Iranian people. One last point that is of particular importance for the people in Iran, especially the young generation, and that is the role that technologies can play in either enhancing or threatening human rights. I believe the EU should take its responsibility in ensuring, at least, that no repressive technologies are exported to such repressive regimes, and this we can do now without controversy. Question from Mr Charles Tannock Answer to Mr Charles Tannock Mr President, in reply to Mr Tannock, I meant to point out that there are specific Members who are keen on imposing sanctions. The European People’s Party has asked for a split vote in a text that is also before this House tomorrow, a text which seeks to have a consistent EU approach to repressive regimes and in which we clearly state that the EU does not impose sanctions in order to target entire populations, but rather to address individuals. I think the text is appropriate and I regret the fact that there are apparently some people on the conservative side of this House relative to where my group stands, who seek to talk about sanctions as a whole, instead of making that important distinction which I am glad Mr Tannock will make as well.