The former European Commission president, who is credited as the architect of the modern EU and the euro, has broken ranks with other European leaders to offer Britain an exit from the Union.
“The British are solely concerned about their economic interests, nothing else. They could be offered a different form of partnership,” he told Handelsblatt, a German financial newspaper.
“If the British cannot support the trend towards more integration in Europe, we can nevertheless remain friends, but on a different basis. I could imagine a form such as a European economic area or a free-trade agreement.”
The comments will add weight to growing demands from Conservative backbench MPs and Euro-sceptics for David Cameron to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with Europe and to bring back powers from the EU to Westminster.