After the Trump administration’s decision unilaterally to exit the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Europe’s anger turned quickly to resignation, as companies moved to sever ties with Tehran lest they suffer retaliation from Washington.
Germany is now calling for a reset in the nature of trans-Atlantic relations that will give Europe more autonomy to create foreign policy free of US coercion. The shift would have to include a change to the global payments system, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas wrote in Handelsblatt on Tuesday:
“In this situation, it is of strategic importance that we clearly tell Washington: We want to work together. But we will not let you go over our heads. Therefore, it is right to protect European companies from legal sanctions.
“As such, it is essential that we strengthen European autonomy by setting up payment channels independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building an independent SWIFT system. The devil is in a thousand details. But every day the [Iran nuclear] deal persists is better than the high-explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East.”
He went on to articulate an alliance for multilateralism, suggesting that while the US is welcome to join, Donald Trump’s America is not included.
“We are seeking an alliance for multilateralism – a network of partners who, like us, are committed to binding rules and fair competition. The first who I have met with are Japan, Canada and South Korea; others are to follow. This alliance is not a rigid, exclusive club of well-wishers,” Maas wrote.
“The door is wide open – especially the USA.” he added.