A leading left-wing economist has slammed European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker over his handling of Brexit, accusing him of failing to acknowledge the European Union’s failings.
Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who previously advised U.S. President Bill Clinton, said Mr. Juncker’s approach of labelling Brexit supporters “extremists” was deeply damaging, and that threatening others who want to leave the EU sent the “wrong message”.
“He didn’t say, ‘We haven’t done a good job in explaining the advantages of the EU’,” Mr. Stiglitz said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“The message should have been that we want to make the EU something that people voluntarily want to be in.”
Following Theresa May’s speech setting out the UK’s priorities for the Brexit negotiations, Mr. Juncker accused Britain of blaming the EU for its own problems.
“They fool those people who think that if you close in on yourselves and close your doors to migrants that is the way to solve all problems,” the Commission President said.
“Quite often we end up going down the route of the extremists when we defend their own interests, because they make Europe responsible for all ills.”
He also warned that negotiating a Brexit deal with the EU would be “very, very, very difficult”.
However, there is increasing evidence of division among EU leaders, with Donald Tusk, the European Council President, saying Mrs. May’s speech was “Churchillian”, while Angela Merkel said she had given a “clearer impression” of what Britain wants.
This is not the first time Mr. Stiglitz has spoken out against the failings of the European project.
He previously spoke out against the euro currency, saying it was to blame for most of the Eurozone’s problems, such as unemployment and economic stagnation.
“What they did was to put the cart before the horse. They tried to create the euro before they had the institutions,” he said.