The European Union and Russia do not need any contracts to carry out most transactions in euros, Thierry Mariani, a National Rally MEP, says, while adding that “anything that will put an end to the hegemony of the dollar is a positive thing”.
“It has always seemed surreal to me that big countries like European states or Russia use the dollar in their transactions. This is another economic and legal weapon for the United States, because it believes that is has the right to act if its currency is being used”.
Mariani has also claimed that the greenback is providing the United States with a “legal and even criminal opportunity” to meddle in various affairs:
“One of the main problems today is the extraterritoriality of American law. The use of their currency, in particular, creates a legal and even criminal opportunity for them to intervene in a wide range of affairs. French banks have paid the price. I do not understand why, in the face of such sanctions and risks, we still have not begun to massively use other currencies. If this treaty (between the EU and Russia) enters into force, I see this as only a positive effect. But I think for now this is only an intention without a specific mechanism”, he concludes.
Meanwhile, Elvira Nabiullina, the head of the Russian Central Bank, has elaborated that Russia and the EU trade in dollars due to the fact that a significant part of Russian exports are commodities, so it is impossible to transfer to other currencies by administrative means, but gradually there will be a shift to other currencies, including national ones.
“Indeed, now there are more and more ideas, and the question is why our trade with the European Union is nominated in dollars and not in national currencies, including the euro. It would be more convenient and more reliable, considering, among other things, various restrictions which are imposed on the use of the dollar, and we see them as a result of geopolitical threats and risks", she said at a Russia-EU student conference in Skolkovo.
The comments come amid reports by numerous Russian news outlets, citing a spokesperson for Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov as saying that he and Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission for the Energy Union, had agreed to set up a working group that will be handle a transition to using the euro and rouble in bilateral payments.
The Russian side has been on the de-dollarisation course for a while now, dumping its US bond holdings and switching to transactions in national currencies in a bid to mitigate external economic and political risks. Most recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin described the US dollar as a “tool for the issuing country to put pressure on the rest of the world” while delivering a speech at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
The EU, for its part, has reportedly been trying to strengthen the euro as a global reserve currency and challenge the dollar in international transactions. The issue of national currencies dove back into the limelight amid European efforts to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran after the US unilaterally pulled out from it in May 2018.