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    The First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans addresses the media at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014.

    Timmermans Takes Aim: Member States' Anti-EU Sniping Contributed to Brexit

    © AP Photo / Geert Vanden Wijngaert
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    European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans has taken aim at EU leaders in the wake of the UK's decision to leave the bloc, saying that constant criticism of European institutions contributed to the British public's decision to vote in favor of a Brexit.

    Speaking to Dutch public broadcasters, Timmermans said he wasn't surprised by the decision from the June 23 referendum.

    "For twenty years, people have been told that the EU is flawed. Then at the end of the process, when people are asked whether they still want to vote to stay, no one should be surprised when the majority says no," Timmermans said.

    ​A slim majority of Britons (52 percent) defied the campaign of Prime Minister David Cameron and all of the country's major political parties by voting in favor of leaving the EU, with many Leave campaigners arguing that Britain should take back control from perceived unelected bureaucrats in Brussels.

    ​Timermans said the anti-EU sentiment stems from national leaders passing the buck in order to appease domestic audiences.

    "Do you constantly say that everything in Brussels is not decided by us, or do you say: I sit at the table in Brussels and I am partly responsible for what has been decided."

    'Euroskeptic Genie Out of the Bottle'

    Outgoing British PM Cameron was widely criticized following the June 23 vote, with German MEP Manfred Weber telling the European Parliament that Cameron's history of political point scoring — which consisted of the PM repeatedly criticizing Brussels — eventually came back to bite him.

    ​​Such cultivation of anti-EU sentiment across the country led prominent Brexiteer Nigel Farage to claim that "the euroskeptic genie is out of the bottle" across Europe.

    While contrasting with Farage on many issues, EC vice-president Timmermans agreed that the "exit" issue was not isolated to Britain.

    ​"It is about the middle class and the working class, which have lost control over their land, their lives, their destiny. It is not a typically British problem. We see that everywhere in Europe."

    Timmermans stopped short of calling for treaty change, but said the EU needed to find "concrete solutions" to a range of issues affecting Europe such as unemployment and immigration.


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    euroskepticism, Brexit, referendum, sovereignty, immigration, Britain's EU referendum, Vote Leave, British Conservative Party, European Union, Manfred Weber, Nigel Farage, Frans Timmermans, David Cameron, Europe, United Kingdom, Brussels, London
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