Phasing in an embargo is the same as phasing in higher prices smack in the midst of an already guaranteed monster European recession.
Maybe another reason for the delay is that by then they will have accomplished to get rid of the last obstacle (Syria) on the way to Tehran.
Worth reading the timeline and details below since when it will be done all hell will break loose in the Middle East.
Under pretence of looking for other sources of oil, EU Iran Oil Embargo Over Nuclear Work Said Likely to Be Delayed Six Months
A European Union embargo on imports of Iranian (OPCRIRAN) oil will probably be delayed for six months to let countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain find alternative supplies, two EU officials with knowledge of the talks said.
The embargo, which would need to be accepted by the 27- nation bloc’s foreign ministers on Jan. 23, is also likely to include an exemption for Italy, so crude can be sold to pay off debts to Rome-based Eni SpA (ENI), Italy’s largest oil company, according to the officials, who declined to be identified because the talks are private.
A ban on petrochemical products would start sooner, about three months after EU ministers agree to the measure, one official said yesterday. Once a decision is made, member states would be barred from concluding new oil contracts with Iran or renewing those that are due to expire, while existing deals will be terminated within six months, according to a second diplomat today. Long-term contracts constitute the bulk of Europe’s purchases of Iranian oil.
Phasing in the European embargo would satisfy the concern of nations most dependent on Iranian crude, including Italy, Greece and Spain, the first EU official said. Those three nations accounted for 68.5 percent of EU imports from Iran in 2010, according to European Commission data.
As Europe weighs its embargo, President Barack Obama’s administration has sent teams worldwide to consult with countries on managing the supply and demand of oil, according to an administration official who briefed reporters in Washington.
OPEC’s other members would be able to make up for a drop in Iranian oil supply if the EU agrees to an embargo, said Chakib Khelil, the group’s former president. Even so, prices may temporarily rally to as high as $200 a barrel on news of any such blockade, he said today in London.
“It should be possible to replace, at least, the European consumption of Iranian oil,” Khelil said in an interview with Mark Barton on Bloomberg Television’s “On the Move.”