Britain’s exit from the European Union makes deeper integration between eurozone countries even more necessary than before, France’s finance minister has said.
Although some have seen the vote as a warning against further integration, others see the UK’s departure as an opportunity to tighten the bonds between the other member states, particularly those in the 19-nation currency union dubbed the eurozone.
“A greater integration of the eurozone is something desirable from the point of view of global stability (and) European stability,” French finance minister Michel Sapin told reporters following talks with US treasury secretary Jack Lew in Paris.
“I think Americans see things the same way. Brexit makes an acceleration of this process necessary.”
He repeated twice that Britain’s decision to leave the EU “can only be negative” for the country.
Still, he said: “We have to accept the vote.”
Mr Sapin said he was pleased David Cameron’s soon-to-be successor, Theresa May, was moving into Number 10 on Wednesday, quicker than anticipated.
He said he hoped that meant Britain’s formal notification to depart the EU “will happen as quickly as possible”.
Mr Lew called for pragmatism as the UK and the EU negotiate the terms of their divorce.
Asked twice whether Britain would be at the “back of the queue” following Brexit – as President Barack Obama warned in April – Mr Lew gave a minute-and-a-half-long series of answers which did not once feature the word “queue”.
“I think we will all have to work together as the UK and the EU go through the process of working out the relationship that the UK will have after the referendum,” he said.