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United States/BNP Paribas

Published on July 10, 2014
Hearing of M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, before the National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee

Paris, July 8, 2014

(…)

Regarding the BNP Paribas affair and the TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] negotiations, I’ve had the opportunity to speak about them several times. A settlement has now been reached between the bank and the various American authorities. The bank has acknowledged that, given the legislation, a number of faults were committed, and it’s preparing to pay what’s been demanded, which is a huge amount but at the same time won’t threaten the equilibrium of the bank, which is very solid.

But on a general level, this raises the issue of the extraterritoriality of legislation. You remember those statements by the [US] Treasury Secretary in the 1970s: a journalist asked what he thought of the dollar and he said, “it’s our currency and your problem”.

I’m not going to philosophize, I’m simply going to say that the only way – trade being what it is – to effectively combat a risk of this kind is to have something equally solid to offset it. And that something is called the euro.

There’s nevertheless a logical problem in this case, namely that international trade consists, by definition, of exchanges, and it’s necessary to agree on a common unit. It so happens that the common unit today is the dollar. That’s regrettable. And it’s common to 80% or 90% of transactions.

I know you want to continue carrying out transactions, but if it’s not the dollar [which is used] it must be something else. And that something is either the Chinese currency – although Europe holds little sway over that type of currency –, the euro or a basket of currencies. But it was Mendès France’s old ideas that were right.

In any case, it means the European currency must be there, because otherwise we have a law we’re subjected to and we won’t be able to influence it.

I wanted to make that point, which is hard to challenge in logical terms. (…)./.

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