Germany: Europe must form a 'counterweight' to US

The German foreign minister has said it was high time that Europe reassessed its partnership with the US.

He advocated an EU payment system independent of the US
dpa

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said that Europe should form a "counterweight" to the United States whenever Washington "crosses red lines."

In a guest article for German business newspaper Handelsblatt, Maas said Germany wants a "balanced partnership" with the United States, in which it "brings its weight where the US withdraws."

"Single-handedly, we will fail in this task. The main goal of our foreign policy is therefore to build a sovereign, strong Europe," Maas wrote.

Maas' article comes amid strained relations between the US and its European allies after US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the EU, and pulled out of a nuclear deal between Iran and major powers.

Europe has been scrambling to persuade Tehran to remain in the 2015 accord. But with European firms wary of far-reaching US financial penalties, it's proving to be a challenge.

EU payment system

Maas said Europe needs to set up payment systems independent of the United States if it wants to save the nuclear deal.

"That's why it is indispensable that we strengthen European autonomy by creating payment channels that are independent of the United States, a European Monetary Fund and an independent SWIFT system," Maas wrote. "Every day the deal is alive is better than the highly explosive crisis that would otherwise threaten the Middle East."

Iran called on Europe to speed up efforts to save the deal after French oil group Total formally pulled out of a major gas project on Monday.

The EU has vowed to counter Trump's renewed sanctions on Iran, including by means of a new law to shield European companies from punitive measures.

"Given the circumstances, it is of strategic importance that we tell Washington clearly: We want to work together," Maas wrote. "But we will not allow you to hurt our interests without consulting us."

ap/rt (AFP, Reuters)