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EU's Juncker wants bigger global role for euro

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STRASBOURG (Reuters) - European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called on Wednesday for the European Union to promote the euro as a global currency to challenge the U.S. dollar.

“We must do more to allow our single currency to play its full role on the international scene,” Juncker told the European Parliament in Strasbourg as he presented his annual program.

“It is absurd that Europe pays for 80 percent of its energy import bill – worth 300 billion euros a year – in U.S. dollars when only roughly 2 percent of our energy imports come from the United States,” he said.

“It is absurd that European companies buy European planes in dollars instead of euro,” he added.

While Norway prices its substantial supplies to the EU in euros, an EU official said, other countries use dollars. Among the most important of these are Gulf states and Russia.

“The euro must become the face and the instrument of a new, more sovereign Europe,” Juncker said, as he called for the bloc to become more of a global player and exert more influence internationally with a unified stance.

Reporting by Alastair Macdonald; editing by Philip Blenkinsop