Exclusive Exclusive: Former ECB Chief Warns against E.U. Referendums

The 27 remaining E.U. member states must resist calls by resurgent right and left-wing extremist groups to hold referendums on exiting the bloc, former European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet told Handelsblatt in an exclusive interview. “I am convinced that generalizing referendum-plebiscite in representative democracies is not a good direction,” Mr. Trichet said. “I would warn all European countries not to embark on such adventures.” The United Kingdom’s “catastrophic” decision to leave the European Union was the result of British Conservatives playing “Russian roulette” with a referendum, the former ECB chief said. “For a parochial reason of leadership inside the Conservative Party, the U.K. was risking its own long term future and even its own integrity,” Mr. Trichet said. He also reiterated his calls for a euro-zone finance minister as well as to give the currency union’s representatives in the European Parliament the final say on difficult questions facing the euro zone. “We have to run this new governance effectively and democratically,” Mr. Trichet said. The former ECB chief also played down popular discontent with the European Union, saying citizens are more upset with their national governments than Brussels. “In the last survey of the Eurobarometer, European institutions are less rejected than national institutions, the European Commission less than national governments,” Mr. Trichet said. Read the full story in Handelsblatt Global Edition Monday Picture source: DPA