French minister: Eurozone needs more integration post Brexit

PARIS – The British exit from the European Union makes deeper integration between eurozone countries even more necessary than before, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Tuesday.

Speaking after talks with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew in Paris, Sapin said that American finance officials seemed to see things the same way.

Britons voted in favour of a British exit from the EU, or Brexit, on June 23 — against the advice of Prime Minister David Cameron.

“I spoke about it with the treasury secretary,” Sapin told reporters. “A greater integration of the eurozone is something desirable from the point of view of global stability (and) European stability. I think Americans see things the same way. Brexit makes an acceleration of this process necessary.”

Sapin declined to go into detail, saying that was a matter for the French president and his European counterparts.

He repeated twice that Britain’s decision to leave the EU “can only be negative” for the country and acknowledged being sad about it.

“We have to accept the vote,” Sapin said. “We’re sad about it. … But we have to respect it.”

He said he was pleased that a new prime minister was taking power sooner rather than later. He added that he hopes a consequence of that will be that Britain’s formal notification to the EU about its departure “will happen as quickly as possible.”

Home Secretary Theresa May was confirmed Monday as the new Conservative leader and will become Britain’s new prime minister Wednesday when David Cameron steps down after six years at 10 Downing Street.

Lew said Britain and its partners need to be pragmatic as the U.K. and the EU negotiate the terms of their divorce.