In commentary published last month, German Foreign Minister Meiko Haas made the case for greater European independence from US foreign-policy initiatives. In order to strengthen European autonomy, he said, countries will need to set up new payment channels and create an independent SWIFT system.
Despite German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s efforts to play down the comments at the time, it seems the process to realize such a vision has already begun.
German news magazine Der Spiegel reported this week that talks were under way between German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz and his British and French counterparts.
The three parties’ discussions center on establishing a financial institution by November – the deadline for compliance with some of the US administration’s sanctions on Iran. The sole purpose of the project will be to process payments for transactions with Iranian entities, in an effort to maintain incentives that motivated Tehran to sign on to the 2015 nuclear deal.
What is being considered will not be a bank, the outlet reported, but a “special purpose vehicle,” similar to a clearinghouse, that will be open to companies from all European Union members.
The three countries have already met several times, including on the sidelines of the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in mid-July.