The bloc’s former Brexit negotiator said Eurocrats must heed warnings from disenfranchised citizens before it is too late to prevent another member state from leaving the project. He said some people felt “abandoned” and had no future in the EU. In a broad interview, Mr Barnier said: ‘The Olympics in Albertville, my hometown, were an extraordinary event, as was Brexit, but there is a big difference between the two. Brexit is a negative negotiation, a losing divorce, while the Olympics were a positive project.
“But in the 2016 vote against Brussels, there are also more serious things: the feeling of being abandoned, of not being considered or protected. The feeling of not having a say, of not having a future.
“There are also very British reasons for Brexit: nostalgia, nationalism, the City. But there are also reasons that can be found here, such as the popular feeling that there is in many regions of France.
“The feeling of being isolated, not respected, so you have to be very careful. We have to pay attention to this feeling, we have to understand it.
Since retiring from his post in Brussels, the Frenchman has returned to domestic politics.
He is building a coalition of conservative politicians in the hope of toppling centrist President Emmanuel Macron.
Mr Macron is still expected to face Eurosceptic leader Marine Le Pen in the final framework of next April.
The pair are currently neck and neck in the polls.
Mr Barnier hopes to unite more moderate politicians to oppose far-right Ms Le Pen.
In April, he said: ‘We could learn lessons from Brexit for ourselves. It is now too late for the UK but not for us.
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“They say that the EU has not responded to the legitimate desire of the citizens, there we are social unrest or anger, you could say, because there is no protection of the external borders , say some, immigration for flows impacts us …
“And Europe is also often criticized for its bureaucracy and complexity. “
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega