In recent decades Europe's rulers have lost the ability to listen to citizens, whom they no longer represent, Italy's premier Giuseppe Conte told a conference in central Italy on Friday.
"Over the past years, Europe has abandoned its core function of representation," Conte told the annual State of the Union meeting in Fiesole, outside Florence.
A "deepening disconnect" between citizens and the governing class in recent decades have caused us to lose sight of the reasons for the bloc's birth in the post-war era and the first phase of European integration, he said.
"Europe has lost its ability to grasp the needs and expectations of its people and to understand their hopes and fears - it has become a remote oligarchy," Conte underlined.
His comments came ahead of the European Parliament elections later this month when it is estimated that populist and far-right Euro-sceptic forces could win up to a quarter of seats.