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Mario Draghi has warned that Europe risks losing some of its status as a global power unless it pursues more economic and political integration.

Collecting an award in Lausanne on Thursday, the European Central Bank president countered the argument voiced by supporters of Brexit that abandoning the EU was a means of “taking back control”. Mr Draghi said that rather than giving citizens more power, rolling back integration would enable regions outside Europe to become more dominant in setting policies that influence people’s lives.

“The point is clear: in a world where Europe’s relative size is shrinking and where technology, the environment and the market are permeating national borders, the case for acting together as a way to regain capacity is stronger than ever,” the ECB president said.

The ECB president admitted, however, that the EU needed to do much more to show Europeans what it was there for, acknowledging at times that there was a lack of a sense of purpose. Mr Draghi also criticised European projects that remain incomplete — referring to them as “half-built houses” that shift expectations onto the EU without giving Brussels a big enough mandate to fulfill them. Those incomplete projects include banking union — there remains a lack of common deposit insurance across Europe.

Alluding to the wave of anti-EU populism that has helped Marine Le Pen secure a place in the final round of the race for the French presidency, Mr Draghi added: “In the light of the new challenges we are facing, acting together as a union remains vital to delivering in the true interest of citizens.”

Mr Draghi said the region now provided less of the world’s wealth and a smaller proportion of its people than in the past, meaning it had “become even more important that European countries are able to pool their resources and exploit economies of scale.” Clubbing together also gave Europe more power to influence world trade rules, offering citizens some protection from some of the dangers that can accompany globalisation.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.
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