Jose Barroso, the former European Commission president advising Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Brexit, predicted Britain’s talks to depart the EU will be “bumpy” and “turbulent.”
“The minimum we can say is that it’s going to be a very complicated, bumpy, turbulent negotiation,” Barroso, 60, said Friday in a speech to the Insol Europe Annual Congress on financing and insolvency in Cascais, Portugal, west of Lisbon. “What’s going to happen? We do not know,” he said, noting that the U.K. hasn’t defined its negotiating position.
Barroso also said the European Union is past its “existential crisis” over the euro, but repeated his call for political union to ensure the common currency succeeds.
“If we want to have a common currency, we’re going to need a political union,” Barroso said in response to questions. “Why don’t we have it? The governments of Europe so far have not accepted it.” He added that a “United States of Europe” was unlikely in the near future.
Barroso’s appointment as an adviser to Goldman Sachs on July 8, two weeks after the Brexit vote, sparked outrage from European leaders including French President Francois Hollande, who said joining the U.S. investment bank was “morally unacceptable” for a former head of the EU’s executive arm. Barroso, who led the Brussels-based Commission for 10 years until 2014, is advising Goldman Sachs on Brexit and other global issues in his role as non-executive chairman of the firm’s international unit.
The European Commission opened an ethics investigation into the hire after European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly questioned whether it was appropriate for Barroso to take the role less than two years after his term ended.