Since the US withdraw from the P5+1 nuclear deal, a flurry of sanctions and threats of sanctions have been pushed to try to intimidate the international community out of trading with Iran. EU nations, particularly Germany, France, and Britain, have tried to put measures in place to protect their companies, and assure them that it’s safe to trade.
So far, it’s not working. German companies were quickly looking for the exit when the US started threatening sanctions, and months later, there is no sign that companies are many more placate by EU assurances of protection.
From the day the US withdrew, there was always the expectation that, with pretty much the entire rest of the world still supporting the nuclear deal, there would be substantial incentive to just ignore the US threats. Companies, however, clearly have doubts about how deep those promises of protection would go if push came to shove.
Interestingly, the EU faced a very similar effort at the US forcing them to cut off business in Cuba, a nation with much less lucrative business ties, and the EU very quickly and successfully forced the US to back down. Though it was widely assumed the EU would follow the same tack on Iran, that so far hasn’t happened, and companies don’t seem to be waiting to see if it ever does.