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French Agriculture minister Jacques Mezard arrives at the Elysee Palace before a weekly cabinet meeting in Paris, France, May 31, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

(reuters_tickers)

By Sybille de La Hamaide and Gus Trompiz

PARIS (Reuters) - The loss of Britain's net contribution to the European Union farm budget after Brexit and the upcoming reform of EU agriculture policy will require tighter links between the bloc's two biggest farm powers, according to France's farming minister.

Newly appointed Jacques Mezard, 69, who travelled to Berlin on Monday, said he had agreed with his German counterpart Christian Schmidt to work closely together, notably on the consequences of Britain's departure from the 28-member bloc for the future of the EU's farm policy (CAP).

"The priority is to preserve the Common Agriculture Policy as a driver of European life", Mezard told Reuters in an interview. "And this wish seemed totally shared by the German minister."

Current geopolitical uncertainties, notably in the United States, further increased the need for a strong cooperation at EU level, he said.

"What is happening on the international stage, be it Brexit, whether it is Western Europe's relations with President Trump ...has made a number of our European partners, mainly Germany, think about the need to have a European vision, to stick together, and to ensure that the Franco-German engine resumes functioning in full harmony," Mezard said.

Still, negotiations will be toughened by uncertainties about the final budget, with Brexit negotiations not expected to be over before 2019.

There are tens of billions of euros that Britain may owe the EU in widely varying estimates, while at the same time there is the prospect of the EU losing Britain's total net contribution to the bloc of around 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion) per year.

($1 = 0.8905 euros)

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Andrew Callus)

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