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Eurozone to become 'a great country' like US, says French minister

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Eurozone to become 'a great country' like US, says French minister
Photo: AFP
09:01 CEST+02:00
French finance minister Bruno Le Maire called Thursday for the European Union to become a cohesive whole, as unified and ambitious as the United States, adding that it was time for Britain to face the consequences of Brexit.
The remarks come as the EU emerges from a rocky period of rising nationalism and challenges to its unity.
   
Talks between the EU and Britain, which voted last year to secede, deadlocked in Brussels on Thursday, leaving future trade relations in doubt.
 
"I think what we need within the Eurozone is more unity and more ambition,"Le Maire said during an event in Washington at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
   
"I don't want speak about the Eurozone. I want to speak about an economic continent," he added.
 
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Photo: AFP
   
Le Maire said Eurozone members should aim to mirror the cohesion of the United States.
   
"We are not speaking about a dollar zone. We are speaking about the United States, which is a great country," said Le Maire.
   
"And I want tomorrow to speak about not the Eurozone but speak about Europe as a great country, with the great economy, with growth, with employment, with education, with investment and innovation."
 
Asked by a CNN interviewer whether the 19 Eurozone members could reach consensus on such questions, Le Maire said he would work to convince France's partners.
   
"And on that very specific point I can be very very strong," he said.
   
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde rephrased Le Maire's remarks in softer terms.
   
"I would say very persuasive, which is even nicer," said Lagarde.
 
Britain 'must assume consequences' of Brexit
 
Le Maire also said Britain must face the consequences of its decision to exit the European Union.
   
"They can no longer pretend to have the benefits of the membership within the European Union without being a member of European Union anymore," Le Maire said on the sidelines of the annual meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
 
EU negotiator Michel Barnier announced Thursday that latest round of talks had reached a "disturbing" impasse, fuelling worries that Britain could have a "hard exit," leaving the EU without no arrangement.
   
Le Maire said Thursday he regretted the British public's decision to pull out of the EU, handed down after a referendum last year, but added it was time to face the music.

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