EU-China Collaboration in the Reform of the International Monetary System: Much Ado About Nothing?


  • We would like to thank Yongding Yu, Haihong Gao and Jean-Joseph Boillot for insightful comments.


The global financial crisis has shown that the current international monetary system (IMS) suffers from an inherent flaw: it depends on US current account deficits for the provision of global liquidity. Under this arrangement, peripheral countries have to accept periodically the debasement of the US dollar. Thus, there are some mutual incentives for the EU and China to reform the current IMS through cooperation. Both are in favour of stable exchange rates, and both are keen to constrain US macroeconomic profligacy. There have been some efforts towards these objectives in the past, especially during the French presidency of the G20 in 2011. However, there has been no significant progress. On the European side, there is not a united and independent Europe which could act as the primary agent of reform. On the Chinese side, Beijing does not see Europe as a reliable partner because the latter is deemed to have a major vested interest in the current regime. As a result, the French government failed to focus the world's attention on the reform of the IMS during G20 Cannes Summit, and the Chinese government has chosen a more unilateral way to internationalise its own currency.