The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

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20th Anniversary of the Bruges Speech

Press Release: For Immediate Release

Margaret Thatcher’s speech is as true today as it was twenty years ago

Robert Oulds

20th Anniversary of the Bruges Speech

Saturday, 20th September 2008 was the twentieth anniversary of Margaret Thatcher's seminal Bruges Speech in which she outlined an alternative vision for Britain and Europe.

Margaret Thatcher’s speech is as true today as it was twenty years ago. The Bruges Group says that those statements should have been taken more seriously then and acted on, but it is not too late. The reality of the European Union is that it is a centralising project that does not believe in accountability or democracy. It is the antithesis of British and European history and its developments remain dangerous.

Margaret Thatcher warned about the path the European Community was taking towards becoming a centralised political structure that was clearly intending to suppress national identity and national independence. This was a dangerous path.
“To try to suppress nationhood and concentrate power at the centre of a European conglomerate would be highly damaging... Europe will be stronger precisely because it has France as France, Spain as Spain, Britain as Britain, each with its own customs, traditions and identity. It would be folly to try to fit them into some sort of identikit European personality.”

Power, she said, should not be concentrated in Brussels; Europe should become a willing coalition of states that collaborated as they saw fit. Nor should Europe aim towards greater centralised state control but learn to encourage freedom in every sphere and economic enterprise.

Twenty years on we can see how prescient the Prime Minister’s statements were. Since then more power has been ceded to Brussels; the EU and its member states have become less competitive and more tied down by bureaucratic regulations; freedom and democracy are being undermined as we can see in the way that the EU is still trying to impose the Lisbon Treaty (the revived Constitutional Treaty) on the peoples of Europe.

Robert Oulds

Robert Oulds, the Director of the Bruges Group, which was named after the speech, says,
“There is no question. Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech has been of enormous importance in European politics. It was a wake-up call to all Europeans.

“It is a pity more people did not listen twenty years ago. But subsequent events proved how right Mrs Thatcher’s warnings were. It is now time for us to pay attention, to draw the inevitable conclusions and to accept that the European project has failed. European countries must review completely what it is they want from the future and this time the people of those countries must have their say. We cannot go on as part of this unaccountable, undemocratic, protectionist