Europe's Quest for Financial Independence

Brussels Will Find it Hard to Defy Washington—But It Has to Try

Macron and Merkel in Brussels, July 2018. Kevin Lamarque

On Monday, France and Germany each gathered all of their ambassadors for their annual meeting in Berlin and Paris. In their opening speeches, French President Emmanuel Macron and German foreign minister Heiko Maas delivered markedly synchronized messages. Faced with the prospect of “America first” across the Atlantic, both resolved to invest in building “a sovereign Europe” that can assert itself. And both talked about “new alliances” to breathe new life into a multilateral order under assault by Trump. A French president pushing for greater independence is nothing new. But a German foreign minister calling for “a new, balanced partnership with the U.S. in order to regain our own leeway” is unheard of. What makes Maas’ intervention even more remarkable is that beyond the standard talk about military capabilities, he discussed two concrete areas of action: developing payment systems independent of the dollar to give Europe financial sovereignty and building

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