France’s Sapin Sees Trump Remarks Uniting Europe, Defends Merkel

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said that incoming U.S. President Donald Trump’s prediction of more departures from the European Union will unite the bloc and rebuffed his criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“This kind of comment will only lead to Europeans closing ranks,” Sapin said Tuesday at a press conference in Paris. “The undermining of the Chancellor is not something we can accept.”

Michel Sapin

Photographer: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg

In interviews with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild published late on Sunday, Trump said leaving the 28-nation EU would be good for Britain, suggested that he would consider lifting U.S. sanctions on Russia and described the 67-year-old North Atlantic Treaty Organization as obsolete. The remarks suggest the president-elect’s stance toward Europe is crystallizing with little regard for the basic tenets of the post-World War II trans-Atlantic relationship.

Sapin also questioned whether Trump’s call for tariffs on German auto makers would actually be implemented.

“We need to take the time, all of us, see if there is a difference between content of a tweet and actual policy,” he said. Even many Republicans in the U.S. “say there is a moment when reality imposes itself, beyond characters and personalities.”

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