The Bruges Group spearheads the intellectual battle against the notion of "ever-closer Union" in Europe and, above all, against British involvement in a single European state.

Quotes

Referendum Promises

"Today, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations." — David Cameron MP, The Sun, 26th September 2007

"Nothing will do more damage to the pro-European movement than giving room to the suspicion that we have something to hide, that we do not have the "cojones" to carry our argument to the people." — Nick Clegg, the Guardian, 15th October 2003

"The electorate should be asked for their opinion when all our questions have been answered, when all the details are known, when the legislation has been finally tempered and scrutinised." — Rt Hon. Tony Blair MP, speech to the House of Commons, 20th April 2004

"This constitutional treaty can only come into force once it has been ratified in accordance with the constitutional arrangements of each member state. In the UK, this will require primary legislation amending the European Communities Act 1972 and then endorsement in a referendum." — Rt Hon. Jack Straw MP, Foreign Secretary, speech to the House of Commons, 26th January 2005

"The Government have made it clear that the constitutional treaty will be ratified in the UK only after a referendum." — Geoff Hoon MP, Europe Minister, speech to the House of Commons, 23rd May 2006

"There is no question of any constitutional treaty going through without the express consent of the British people . . . Regardless of how other members vote, we will have a referendum on the subject." — Rt Hon. Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, speech to the House of Commons, 21st June 2004

"The Government have consistently made it clear that the mechanism in the United Kingdom whereby the European draft constitutional treaty could be implemented is approval by the House of Commons followed by a referendum of the people of Britain. There is no question of implementing it by the back door." — Douglas Alexander, Europe Minister, speech to the House of Commons, 31st January 2006

"The EU's constitution is so new and large a document that it would be right to hold a referendum on it. " — Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, EU Observer, 31st May 2003

"I am logically in favour of a referendum. It would be the only legitimate way. " — Jacques Chirac, French President, speaking about the EU Constitution at the EU Thessaloniki Summit, 21st-22nd June 2003

"The referendum should go ahead in any event. Of course it should." — Rt Hon. Tony Blair MP, Prime Minister, speech to the House of Commons, 20th April 2004

"It is absolutely clear that there should be a referendum on the European constitutional treaty, and that remains the Government's position." — Geoff Hoon MP, Europe Minister, speech to the House of Commons, 16th January 2007

"We will put it to the British people in a referendum." — Gordon Brown, General Election Manifesto, 2005

"... ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people." — Liberal Democrat Party, General Election Manifesto, 2005

Lisbon Treaty

"As for the changes now proposed to be made to the constitutional treaty, most are presentational changes that have no practical effect. They have simply been designed to enable certain heads of government to sell to their people the idea of ratification by parliamentary action rather than by referendum." — Dr Garret FitzGerald, former Irish Taoiseach, 123

"There’s nothing from the original institutional package that has been changed." — Astrid Thors, Finnish Europe Minister, TV-Nytt, 23rd June 2007

"They haven't changed the substance - 90 per cent of it is still there." — Bertie Ahern, Irish Prime Minister, Irish Independent, 24th June 2007

"In terms of content, the proposals remain largely unchanged, they are simply presented in a different way... The reason is that the new text could not look too much like the constitutional treaty." — Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, former French President and Chairman of the Convention which drew up the EU Constitution, addressing the Constitutional Affairs Committee in the European Parliament, 17th July 2007

"The good thing is that all the symbolic elements are gone, and that which really matters – the core – is left." — Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, in Jyllands-Posten, 25th June 2007

"A referendum now would bring Europe into danger. There will be no Treaty if we had a referendum in France, which would again be followed by a referendum in the UK." — Nicolas Sarkozy, French President, The Daily Telegraph, 14th November 2007

"If we needed a referendum we would have one. But I think most people recognise that there is not a fundamental change taking place as a result of this amended treaty." — Gordon Brown, The UK Prime Minister, interviewed by the BBC, 24th September 2007

"A great part of the content of the European Constitution is captured in the new treaties." — José Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister, El Pais, 23rd June 2007

"Only cosmetic changes have been made and the basic document remains the same." — Václav Klaus, Czech President, , in Hosposarske Noviny, 13th June 2007

"The good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it." — Giuliano Amato, former Italian Prime Minister and Vice-Chairman of the Convention which drew up the Constitution, speech to the London School of Economics, 20th February 2007

"The substance of the constitution is preserved. That is a fact." — Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, speech to the European Parliament, 27th June 2007

"For Austria it was important to keep the essence, to keep the institutional side of it intact, and also to keep the Charter of Fundamental Rights. This is the essence, and we were able to safeguard that." — Ursula Plassnik, Autrian Foreign Minister, BBC 10 o'clock news, 7th September 2007

The EU Constitution - in their own words

"We know that nine out of 10 people will not have read the Constitution and will vote on the basis of what politicians and journalists say. More than that, if the answer is No, the vote will probably have to be done again, because it absolutely has to be Yes. " — Jean-Luc Dehaene, Former Belgian Prime Minister and Vice-President of the EU Convention, Irish Times, 2nd June 2004

"Our continent's unification is at hand and we must stand to account. " — Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, speech in Brussels, 22nd May 2002

"We are involved in a constitution-building process of historic importance. The Convention should mark a new stage in European integration." — Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, speech in Brussels, 22nd May 2002

"The EU must take on new responsibilities. And these new responsibilities call for intensifying the integration process. " — Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, speech in Brussels, 22nd May 2002

"The Constitution is the capstone of a European Federal State. " — Guy Verhofstadt, Belgian Prime Minister, Financial Times, 21st June 2004

"Our constitution cannot be reduced to a mere treaty for co-operation between governments. Anyone who has not yet grasped this fact deserves to wear the dunce's cap. " — Valéry Giscard, President of the EU Convention, speech in Aachen accepting the Charlemagne Prize for European integration, 29th May 2003

"For the first time, Europe has a shared Constitution. This pact is the point of no return. Europe is becoming an irreversible project, irrevocable after the ratification of this treaty. It is a new era for Europe, a new geography, a new history." — French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, Le Metro, 7th October 2004

"This Constitution is, in spite of all justified calls for further regulations, a milestone. Yes, it is more than that. The EU Constitution is the birth certificate of the United States of Europe. The Constitution is not the end point of integration, but the framework for - as it says in the preamble - an ever closer union." — Hans Martin Bury, the German Minister for Europe, debate in the Bundestag, Die Welt, 25 February 2005

"The European Constitution will be an essential stage in the historic process of European integration." — Gerhard Schröder the Chancellor of Germany and President Chirac of France, The Nantes Franco-German summit joint declaration, 24th November 2001

"There is really quite an inherent danger in the traditional British view that the council of ministers and inter-governmentalism is your protection against the federalist superstate." — Gisela Stuart MP (Labour), representative of Parliament on the EU Convention, ePolitix.com, 2nd December 2002

"We have to give ourselves a constitution which marks the birth of Europe as a political entity. " — Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, Brussels, February 2002

"Creating a single European state bound by one European Constitution is the decisive task of our time." — German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, The Daily Telegraph, 27 December 1998

"This is a legal revolution without precedent. " — Spanish Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, Irish Times, 14 June 2003

"Monetary union is there, the common currency is there. So our main concern nowadays is foreign policy and defence. The next step, in terms of integration of the European Union, will be our constitution. We are today where you were in Philadelphia in 1787. " — French ambassador to the US Jean-David Levitte, press conference, 3 April 2003

"Anyone in Britain who claims the constitution will not change things is trying to sweeten the pill for those who don't want to see a bigger role for Europe. The constitution is not just an intellectual exercise. It will quickly change people's lives. " — Former Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini, The Sunday Telegraph, 1st June 2003

"Our task is nothing less than the creation of a new constitutional order for a new united Europe. " — Peter Hain, MP, Financial Times, 22 March 2003

"The European Union is a state under construction." — Elmar Brok, Chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs

"A full-time president of the European Council would be the most powerful politician of Europe, but will not be elected by the people or be accountable to a democratic body meeting in public. How is this going to bring Europe closer to its citizens?" — Gijs de Vries - Dutch representative on the EU Convention

"We have sown a seed... Instead of a half-formed Europe, we have a Europe with a legal entity, with a single currency, common justice, a Europe which is about to have its own defence. " — Valery Giscard d'Estaing, President of the EU Convention, presenting the final draft of the EU Constitution, 13th June 2003

"Our continent has seen successive attempts at unifying it: Caesar, Charlemagne and Napoleon, among others. The aim has been to unify it by force of arms, by the sword. We for our part seek to unify it by the pen. Will the pen succeed where the sword has finally failed? " — Valery Giscard d'Estaing, president of the EU Convention, speech in Aachen accepting the Charlemagne Prize for European integration, 29th May 2003

"These tasks form the core of the new European Project and they represent a giant step forward in European integration. " — Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, speech in Brussels, 22nd May 2002

The Charter of Fundamental Rights - in their own words

"It should be stressed that the UK was given a clarification, not an opt-out." — Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish Foreign Minister, Speech to the Swedish Parliament, 26th June 2007

"There is good reason to accept this text as the basis for an eventual European constitution." — German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder , The Irish Times, 16th October 2000

"As the Commission sees it, the draft Charter of Fundamental Rights offers genuine added value, irrespective of the status it will initially enjoy. Sooner or later it will have to be incorporated into the Treaties. " — European Commission, The Times, London, 13th October 2000

"The Charter of Fundamental Rights should be seen as the central element of a process culminating in the European Union's adoption of a constitution. " — Resolution of the European Parliament, Agence Europe, 16th March 2000

Withdrawal

"Of course, Britain could survive outside the EU...We could probably get access to the Single Market as Norway and Switzerland do..." — The Rt Hon. Tony Blair, MP - UK Prime Minister, speech in Ghent, 23rd February 2000

The euro - in their own words

"When the euro was born everyone knew that sooner or later a crisis would occur... "We are therefore at a crossroads. The only alternative to greater co-ordination of economic policies is dissolution of the euro." — Romano Prodi, Former President of the European Commission, Financial Times 20th May 2010

"It will be the first time Europe will have its own currency and the first time we have achieved such a result without arms." — Yves-Thibault de Silguy, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

"The Euro is a conquest of sovereignty. It gives us a margin of manoeuvre. It's a tool to help us master globalisation and help us resist irrational shifts in the market." — Dominique Strauss-Kahn, French Finance Minister, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

"Economic and Monetary Union is one of the most far-reaching and momentous steps of the European Union exercise." — Charlie McReevy, Irish Finance Minister, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

"From now on, monetary policy, usually an essential part of national sovereignty, will be decided by a truly European institution." — Wim Duisenburg, President of the European Central Bank, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

"It [the Euro] is a decisive step towards ever closer political and institutional union in Europe. Above all, it is political." — Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, Italian Finance Minister, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

European integration - in their own words

"One must never forget that monetary union, which the two of us were the first to propose more than a decade ago is ultimately a political project. It aims to give a new impulse to the historic movement towards union of the European states. Monetary union is a federative project that needs to be accompanied and followed by other steps." — Giscard d'Estaing and Helmut Schmidt, former French & German leaders, quoted in International Herald Tribune, 14.10.97

"The process of monetary union goes hand in hand, must go hand in hand, with political integration and ultimately political union. EMU is, and was meant to be, a stepping stone on the way to a united Europe." — Wim Duisenberg, President, European Central Bank

"The single currency is the greatest abandonment of sovereignty since the foundation of the European Community. It is a decision of an essentially political nature. We need this United Europe. We must never forget that the euro is an instrument for this project." — Felipe Gonzales, former Prime Minister of Spain, May 1998.

"A signal must be sent that a single market and a single currency is not the end of the EU journey." — -Victor Klima, Chancellor of Austria, Poertschach, Austria, October 24, 1998.

"We are entering a new phase of European politics. What is decisive is not only do we have a single currency area, but also that it is accompanied by a co-ordinated economic and financial policy. We must drive forward tax harmonisation in Europe." — Oskar Lafontaine, press conference after meeting with French finance minister Dominique Strauss Khan, November 16, 1998.

"We ought to work on a common constitution to turn the European Union into an entity under international law—that is my goal. It is the decisive task of our time." — Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, Berlin, 25 November, 1998.

"It is now up to us to see that we embark on the next stage leading to political unity, which I think is the consequence of economic unity, so that Europe can in the future also play a political role on the international stage, leading even as far as a common defence policy. " — Jacques Santer, then-President of the European Commission, The Daily Telegraph, 1st January 1999.

"The time for individual nations [in Europe] having its own tax, employment and social policies if definitely over. We must finally bury the erroneous ideas of nations having sovereignty over foreign and defence policies. National sovereignty will soon prove itself to be a product of the imagination." — Gerhard Schröder, Chancellor of Germany, January 1999.

"European government is a clear expression I still use, you need time, but step by step, as in the Austrian case, the European Commission takes a political decision and behaves like a growing government. " — EU Commission President Romano Prodi, The Independent, 4th February 2000

"We'll negotiate withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs" — Tony Blair , personal election manifestos for Beaconsfield and Sedgefield 1982 and 1983

"...one of the French Presidency's priorities will be to facilitate use of the enhanced cooperation mechanism...The creation of a group of countries which would be the front-runners of those which want to take Europe forward... " — French President Chirac, at the annual conference in Paris of all French ambassadors, 28th August 2000

"Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of empire. We have the dimension of empire." — José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, EUobserver, 10 July 2007


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Democracy In Crisis


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