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France sees Eurozone as single ‘great country’

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire (R) and Minister for Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin (2ndR) talk to journalists to present the French gouvernment's budget at the National Assembly in Paris, France, September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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.

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.

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.