France's political and business establishment has hit out against the hegemony of the dollar in international transactions after U.S. authorities fined BNP Paribas $9 billion for helping countries avoid sanctions.
Michel Sapin, the French finance minister, called for a "rebalancing" of the currencies used for global payments, saying the BNP Paribas case should "make us realize the necessity of using a variety of currencies".
He said, in an interview with the Financial Times on the sidelines of a weekend economics conference: "We [Europeans] are selling to ourselves in dollars, for instance when we sell planes. Is that necessary? I don't think so. I think a rebalancing is possible and necessary, not just regarding the euro but also for the big currencies of the emerging countries, which account for more and more of global trade."
The uproar over the BNP fine at the usually sedate Cercle des Economistes conference in Aix-en-Provence highlighted what has become yet another friction point in transatlantic relations.
French officials lobbied heavily on behalf of the country's largest bank and argued that BNP broke no European rules, prompting a debate about whether it had been the victim of U.S. judicial over-reach.