"If they (the people) don't take ownership of the policies that are being proposed to them by political leaders, or they distrust their political leaders to start with, then what you'll have is twice the time, twice the cost, or maybe half the efficiency of the policies being proposed."
Read MoreEuro zone deflation risks low: European Commission
His comments come after the European Commission narrowly upped its forecast for growth in the European Union (EU) this year, to 1.6 percent from 1.5 percent. Next year, the EU's executive arm expects growth in the EU to hit 2.0 percent.
Gurria said that European countries hard-hit by the region's sovereign debt crisis, like Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland had made strong efforts to restructure their economies. But he stressed that countries which had been less affected had been more complacent.
"Have the larger economies been preaching through example? No," he said. "I'm talking about France, Germany, also countries outside the European Union like Switzerland. Also Austria, and some of the Nordics."
"I think it is high time for everyone to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they have really done what they need to," he added.
The OECD represents 34 middle and high income countries across all the major European economies, plus the U.S. and Japan. Gurria, a Mexican, has led the organisation since 2006.