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Jean-Claude Juncker states that the EU ´interferes´ too much in people´s lives
The European Union has lost its attractiveness because it meddles too much in people´s lives, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker admitted today.The most senior bureaucrat in Brussels said the EU had become involved in "too many domains where member states... are better placed to take action".
In a stark assessment, the former Luxembourg prime minister conceded the bloc is ‘losing economic clout’, but he said this meant countries needed to work together more rather than less.
His comments came amid an intense debate in the UK about EU membership. Voters face a June in-out referendum on the EU and opinion polls suggest a very close race.
Mr Juncker also said the EU would not relax its visa conditions for Turkey. The "criteria (on visa liberalization) will not be watered down in the case of Turkey", he said, commenting on the EU´s controversial deal with Turkey aimed at tackling Europe´s migrant crisis.
The EU has pledged to grant Turks visa-free travel to the passport-free Schengen zone in return for Turkish efforts to stop boatloads of migrants crossing to the Greek islands. The EU is also giving new impetus to Turkey´s long-stalled negotiations to join the EU.
At the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, Mr Juncker was questioned by British MPs on the EU’s future.
Asked by Tory MP Nigel Evans whether the EU recognized there was a problem as Euroscepticism grows throughout the continent, Mr Juncker replied: ‘We are not blind.’
He said: ‘We are listening to those who are expressing their views. You are right in saying the European project has lost parts of its attractiveness.
‘What does the European Commission do? The Commission is doing less
‘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.’
Under his leadership, Mr Juncker said there had been a reduction in the amount of EU legislation being proposed, but he said it was better to make certain laws at a European level.