In this May 2, 2018, photo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses a press conference to present the EU's next long-term budget, at the European Commission in Brussels. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)
STRASBOURG — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Wednesday called in his State of the Union address for a bigger role of euro as a global trade currency to displace the primacy of the US dollar.
"The euro must become the face and the instrument of a new, more sovereign Europe," Jean-Claude Juncker said
"The euro must become the face and the instrument of a new, more sovereign Europe," the European Commission president said during his last annual address on the Union to the members of European Parliament, meeting for a plenary session in Strasbourg.
The Commission president from Luxembourg noted that the European single currency had "come a long way" in its 20-year history, despite criticism.
"[The euro] is now the second most used currency in the world with 60 countries linking their currencies to the euro in one way or another," Juncker said, stressing the EU must "do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene".
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The European Commission would present new initiatives before the end of the year to strengthen the international role of the euro, Juncker pledged.
"We must first put our house in order by strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union, as we have already started to do," the Commission President said, calling for the Economic and Monetary Union to be completed in order to pave the way for an international euro.
A focus of Juncker's mission for the euro includes shifting dependency on the dollar as a global trade currency for Europe.
"It is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill - worth 300 billion euros a year - in US dollar when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States. It is absurd that European companies buy European planes in dollars instead of euro," Juncker said.
These "absurd" use of the US dollar, as well as "recent events", Juncker said, "have brought into sharp focus the need to deepen our Economic and Monetary Union and build deep and liquid capital markets".
He did not elaborate on the "recent events". But the European Union and its companies have come under intense pressure from sanctions by the United States in their business dealings with Iran, much of which were conducted in the US dollar.
The Commission, Juncker said, has made a series of proposals to do just that - most of which now await adoption by the European Parliament and the Council.
Juncker was not forthcoming on exactly what initiatives the European Commission would propose, in his last 12 months in office before European elections, in order to support the euro's role as a global trade currency.
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The euro is the official currency of the European Union. Among its 28 member states, 19 use the euro as their official currency, and make up a group known as the eurozone.
Euro is the second most-traded and second-largest currency in foreign exchange markets, behind the US dollar, according to Juncker.
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