Jean-Claude Juncker admits EU 'interferes too much'
The European Union has lost popularity because it over-regulates and interferes too much in people's lives, its most senior official has admitted.
Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, has said that the 28-nation bloc lost "parts of its attractiveness" to ordinary citizens.
His reported comments came just over two months before voters in Britain go to the polls to decide whether the country should leave the 28-nation bloc.
"You are right in saying the European project has lost parts of its attractiveness," he said, according to the Daily Mail.
"I think that one of the reasons that European citizens are stepping away from the European project is that we are interfering in too many domains of their private lives. And too many domains where the member states are better placed to take action and pass legislation."
His comments came in response to questions from British MPs during a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
Mr Juncker insisted the commission was "doing less" now in the face of such concerns.
His comments came as Pascal Lamy, the former director general of the World Trade Organisation and ex-EU trade commissioner, dismissed claims by Justice Secretary Michael Gove that Britain would still be able to trade freely with the EU if it voted to leave.
"The notion that you exit the EU trade-wise with no price is simply a lie," he told BBC2's Newsnight.
"If you are part of the European Union you belong to European single market which means you have free access to the whole 500 million consumers plus countries outside EU for which EU has negotiated privileged access for the price of them getting access to this big market.
"So if you're in, that's the privileges you have. If you're out you lose these privileges, you lose preferred access to EU market which is roughly 50% of UK trade.
"You lose privileged access to Canada, Mexico and a series of other countries which is probably 15% more of UK trade, so you lose privileged access you have for 65% of your exports.
"You export less, you produce less. You have less trade, less exports and less jobs. This is something that will never work. It's pie in the sky."