To promote the euro and fight the monopoly of the US dollar in oil and commodities trading, the European Union has formed a wide-ranging industrial group. The news comes in response of mounting tensions over trade and sanctions.
On February 14, the group, which involves executives from European oil firms such as OMV and Eni and gas and power firms such as Fluxys and Engie, will meet behind closed doors in Brussels under the auspices of the European Commission.
As reported by the Reuters news agency, the workshop is part of an EU push to challenge the dominance of the dollar, with an EU official saying such a shift must be market-led.
Participants are invited to dig into “constraints on (market-initiated) alternatives to the use of U.S. dollar through wider use of the euro, in spite of the benefits of such a change”, the Commission said in materials prepared for the meeting.
The meeting, part of a consultation process until mid-2019, is expected to provide new input to EU plans for promoting the euro in energy trading.
“The EU is the world’s largest energy importer with an annual energy import bill averaging €300bn in the last five years. Roughly 85% of this amount is paid in US dollars,” according to the materials for the meeting.
“Washington doesn’t like cartels like OPEC,” said one participant involved in preparing for the meeting, referring to the Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
“But then how can you have one market dominated by one currency – the dollar.”
According to Reuters, however, some industry players are sceptical and not participating in the meeting.
“More than promotion, you need reforms, stability and convincing investors,” a senior central banker said, airing widespread doubts at the European Central Bank about the Commission plan.