As the UK voted to leave the EU in a referendum held on 23 June 2016, we are mothballing Sceptic.eu for now. While the website will remain online for reference purposes, it will not be updated unless the 'Brexit' process falters.

Quotations

For ordinary citizens, the true nature of the European Union (EU) and of its architects and constructors is hard to discern from the gobbledegook and mass of legal documentation which emanates from Brussels and its satellites. Furthermore, the EU's extensive media and public relations management (its Europa website contains 6 million documents) usually generates more heat than light. But occasionally, the human element reveals much more, whether through speeches, articles, conferences, interviews, or even indiscretions. This page presents a selection of quotations, mostly from the political euro-elite, eurocrats and assorted europhiles. You will find that many of them show staggering degrees of ambition, arrogance, disdain, hubris, hypocrisy, or downright lies. Some quotations from critics of the EU are also thrown in to redress the balance a little.

Empire builders

The European Union is not going very well.
Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, 21 October 2015
Islam belongs in Europe ... I am not afraid to say that political Islam should be part of the picture.
Federica Mogherini, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, 24 June 2015
[2 days before an Islamic terrorist murdered 38 tourists - of whom 30 were British - in Tunisia.]
We need a true political union ... we need to build a United States of Europe with the Commission as government and two chambers - the European Parliament and a "Senate" of Member States ... European Parliament elections are more important than national elections ... This will be our best weapon against the Eurosceptics.
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, January 2014
Many countries in Europe still wants [sic] to join us, so the European Union is still sexy, if I can say so.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2013
For the first time in many years, all the leaders of the 27 countries of Europe, including UK etc, said that the only way out of this present crisis is to have more Europe, not less Europe. A Europe that is founded on four building blocks: a fiscal union, a financial union, an economic union and a political union.
Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, 2012
European defence is not an option - it's a necessity. What makes a global power? A strong economy, a common currency, a common foreign policy and a common defence policy. We are making good progress.
Michel Barnier, European Commissioner for Internal Market, 2012
There are no grounds to the existential pessimism that sometimes portrays an EU foreign policy in decline. In fact it is impressive just how 'common' and wide-ranging our foreign policy has become. From Myanmar to the Middle East, from Kosovo to Somalia - the 27 share a common position.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2012
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, 2007
Europe is and will be a Union of States.
José Louis Zapatero, Spanish Prime Minister, 2004
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, 2003
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, 2003
The EU is on the brink of becoming a European Federation by the year 2010. I feel sure that Britain will fall in line.
Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, 2000
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, German Chancellor, 1999
It is certain that the times of individual national efforts regarding employment policies, social and tax policies are definitely over. The internal market and the common currency demand joint co-ordinating action. This will require to bury finally some erroneous ideas of national sovereignty.
Gerhard Schröder, German Chancellor, 1999
Here in Brussels, a true European government has been born. I have governmental powers, I have executive powers for which there is no other name in the world, whether you like it or not, than government.
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, 1999
We must now face the difficult task of moving towards a single economy, a single political entity ... For the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire we have the opportunity to unite Europe.
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, 1999
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 and German leaders, 1997
Creating a single European state bound by one European Constitution is the decisive task of our time.
Joschka Fischer, German Foreign Minister, 1998
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 of the European Central Bank, 1997
The future will belong to the Germans... ...when we build the House of Europe. In the next two years, we will make the process of European integration irreversible. This is a really big battle but it is worth the fight.
Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor [unaware that reporters were present], 1996
We're not just here to make a single market, but a political union.
Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, 1993
The European Union Treaty ... within a few years will lead to the creation of what the founding fathers of modern Europe dreamed of after the war, the United States of Europe.
Helmut Kohl, German Chancellor, 1992
In ten years, 80% of the laws on the economy and social policy will be passed at a European not the national level. We are not going to manage to take all the decisions needed ... unless we see the beginnings of a European Government.
Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, 1988
There is no question of any erosion of essential national sovereignty.
Edward Heath, UK Prime Minister, 1971
There will not be a blueprint for a federal Europe.
Edward Heath, UK Prime Minister, 1970
The Federated Republic of Europe - the United States of Europe - that is what must be. National autonomy no longer suffices. Economic evolution demands the abolition of national frontiers. If Europe is to remain split into national groups, then Imperialism will recommence its work. Only a Federated Republic of Europe can give peace to the world.
Leon Trotsky, Russian revolutionary, 1917
There must be one universal European Code, one court of appeal. The same money, the same weights and measures, the same laws, must have currency through Europe. I must make one nation out of all the European states and Paris must be the capital of the world.
Napoleon Bonaparte, military dictator and first Emperor of France, 1812

Who needs democracy?

The Commission is here for five years to do its job and we did it with vision, responsibility and commitment. Because what is driving us is not to be re-elected. That is why for us the political cost means nothing.
Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs, September 2015
The big decisions on policies in the European Union are made by the parties of the centre. And that therefore it would be a waste of their vote to use it as a protest vote, by choosing Eurosceptics on the right or on the left.
Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, January 2014
The Irish will have to vote again.
Nicolas Sarkozy, French President [regarding the Irish 'No' vote on the Lisbon Treaty], 2008
We must not bow to populism.
Martin Schulz, MEP (and later President of the European Parliament) [regarding the Irish 'No' vote on the Lisbon Treaty], 2008
A few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans.
Wolfgang Schaueble, German Interior Minister [regarding the Irish 'No' vote on the Lisbon Treaty], 2008
The [Lisbon] Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution.
José Barroso, European Commission President, 2008
The fundamentals of the Constitution have been maintained in large part ... We have renounced everything that makes people think of a state, like the flag and the national anthem.
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor [regarding the Lisbon Treaty], 2007
The proposals in the original constitutional treaty are practically unchanged. They have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. Why this subtle change? Above all, to head off any threat of referenda by avoiding any form of constitutional vocabulary.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, an author of the rejected EU Constitution [regarding the Lisbon Treaty], 2007
The good thing about not calling it a Constitution is that no one can ask for a referendum on it.
Giuliano Amato, an author of the rejected Constitution, 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, 2007
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, Conservative Party Leader, 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, UK Prime Minister, 2007
There is no constitutional change that would justify holding a referendum.
Peter Mandelson, European Trade Commissioner, 2007
Europe needs the constitution ... We are willing to make whatever contribution is necessary to bring the constitution into force.
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, 2006
Let's be clear about this, the rejection of the constitution was a mistake that will have to be corrected. The constitution will have to be given a second chance ... If the Irish and Danes can vote yes in the end, so the French can do too. It was a mistake to use the referendum process, but when you make a mistake you can correct it.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, an author of the rejected EU Constitution, 2006
The EU is the only legislature in the world, except North Korea, that still makes laws in secret.
British Conservative MEPs' open letter to the EU, 2005
We will put it to the British people in a referendum.
Labour Party, General Election Manifesto, 2005
Ratification must be subject to a referendum of the British people.
Liberal Democrat Party, General Election Manifesto, 2005
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.
Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister, 2004
The referendum should go ahead in any event. Of course it should.
Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister, 2004
We need an EU referendum ... 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, Liberal Democrat MEP, 2003

Defending the euro

We have to show that the euro is an irreversible project - an irreversible project.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2012
I do not think we are unbiased observers, we think the euro is irreversible. And it's not an empty word now, because I preceded saying exactly what actions have been made, are being made to make it irreversible. But there is another message I want to tell you. Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. Believe me, it will be enough.
Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, 2012
Nobody should take for granted another 50 years of peace and prosperity in Europe. They are not for granted. That's why I say - if the euro fails, Europe fails.
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, 2011
Let us be clear: we will not prune the eurozone to a more selective club. That would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the European political pact, as embodied in the treaties. We need more Europe.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2011
We violated all the rules because we wanted to close ranks and really rescue the euro zone. The Treaty of Lisbon was very straightforward. No bailouts.
Christine Lagarde, then French finance minister (and now IMF chief), 2010
We will defend the Euro, whatever it takes.
José Barroso, President of the European Commission, 2010
We're in a survival crisis. We all have to work together in order to survive with the euro zone, because if we don’t survive with the euro zone we will not survive with the European Union.
Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, 2010
The euro was not just a bankers' decison or a technical decision. It was a decision which completely changed the nature of the nation states. The pillars of the nation state are the sword and the currency, and we changed that. The euro decision changed the concept of the nation state and we have to go beyond that.
Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission, 1999

Miscellaneous

If the European job had been offered to me, I would have taken it. But it wasn't.
Tony Blair, former UK prime minister, 2013
I was equally shocked by the banners in Athens protests depicting Chancellor Merkel in a Nazi uniform. Suddenly these resentments reappeared, that we had thought were long gone. The Italian election campaign was also excessively hostile against Germany and therefore anti-European. Those who think that the question of war can never be raised in Europe any more may be massively wrong.
Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg Prime Minister, 2013
I am thinking of airtight windows! No other country can build such airtight and beautiful windows.
Angela Merkel, German Chancellor [regarding what emotions Germany arouses in her], 2004
Of course, Britain could survive outside the EU ... We could probably get access to the Single Market as Norway and Switzerland do.
Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister, 2000
Labour has converted to Europe because Europe has converted to socialism.
Roy Hattersley, Labour MP and former Deputy Leader, 1992
We'll negotiate withdrawal from the EEC which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs.
Tony Blair, parliamentary candidate, 1982 and 1983

Critics

The European Union is like a hospital where all the doctors are mad. It doesn’t matter what is wrong, the treatment is always the same - more integration - and it is always wrong. The best thing to do is never to enter it. Once you are in, the best thing to do is to leave. If you can’t get out, you will probably die ... If the old USSR was an Evil Empire - and it was - the EU is the Stupid Empire. Obsessed with the idea that the nation state is obsolete, the EU has sought to bind its colonies tightly, while pretending they are still independent.
Peter Hitchens, author and columnist, 2012
This is taking place inside Europe. This is taking place inside a once great nation. The nation that invented democracy. We are on the edge of total social breakdown. And frankly, as far as the euro is concerned and the austerity measures are concerned, the medicine is killing the patient.
Nigel Farage, UK Independence Party Leader and MEP [regarding Greece], 2012
Why consider break-up at all? Break-up occurs because the Euro does not work. Member states would be economically better off if they had never joined. European monetary union was generally mis-sold to the population of the Europe.
Stephane Deo, Paul Donovan, and Larry Hatheway of Swiss bank USB, 2011
You have the charisma of a damp rag, and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk. And the question that I want to ask, that we're all going to ask, is "Who are you?". I'd never heard of you. Nobody in Europe had ever heard of you. I would like to ask you, President, who voted for you, and what mechanism ... oh, I know democracy isn't popular with you lot, and what mechanism the people of Europe have to remove you? Is this European democracy? Well, I sense, I sense though that you are competent and capable and dangerous, and I have no doubt in your intention, to be the quiet assassin of European democracy, and of the European nation states. You appear to have a loathing for the very concept of the existence of nation states - perhaps that's because you come from Belgium, which is pretty much a non-country. But since you took over, we've seen Greece reduced to nothing more than a protectorate. Sir, you have no legitimacy in this job at all, and I can say with confidence that I speak on behalf of the majority of British people in saying: we don't know you, we don't want you, and the sooner you're put out to grass, the better.
Nigel Farage, UK Independence Party MEP [regarding Herman Van Rompuy, newly appointed President of the European Council], 2010
I don't want my children - and possibly their children - to live in thrall to the EU: a layer of government that, in my view, is not only unnecessary, but lawless, corrupt, mistaken, undemocratic, bureaucratic, over-regulated and, ultimately, unworkable. Even if the EU does not develop into a full, single political entity, what has happened so far is quite bad enough. Its parliament - without powers to propose legislation - is hardly in any real sense a Parliament. Its executive (the Commission) - headed by political appointees - is barely accountable to anyone, apart from the very blunt instrument of its entire dismissal by Parliament, as happened with the Santer Commission in 1999. Is it possible for the EU to change, to reform? Having worked in it, and seen it from the inside, I see no chance of that. I see the institution as not only corrupt but corrupting.
Marta Andreasen, MEP and former Chief Accountant fired by the EU, 2009
Few voters, or even members of this House [Westminster], fully realise how many powers have been, or are about to be, transferred elsewhere. There are three reasons for this. The first is that governments of all persuasions deny that any significant powers are being transferred. The second is that, once powers have been transferred, ministers engage in a charade of pretence that they still retain those powers. Even when introducing measures that they are obliged to bring in as a result of an EU directive, they behave as though the initiative were their own ... The third reason is that ... those who support the transfer of power from here to supranational institutions should logically accept that our pay should reflect the diminution of our responsibilities ... Too many members are happy to avert their eyes from what is happening, so long as they retain the prestige and emoluments that were appropriate to a fully sovereign parliament.
Peter Lilley, British MP, 2008
The currently politically correct approach, I call Europeism ... tries to create a brave new world without nations, without borders, without politics, without a "demos" (which means without authentic citizens) and - as a result of it - without democracy. I see it as a big problem.
Václav Klaus, Czech Republic President, 2007
The familiar landscape of national governments, parliaments, monarchies, judicial systems has all been left in place. But they have been subtly hollowed out from within, so that as their powers have gradually been transferred to the new system of government above them, most people have remained blissfully unaware of what has happened.
Christopher Booker, columnist and author, 2005
Africa needs more money, but if it's not linked to ending European agricultural subsidies, it's blatant hypocrisy. The way to build lasting economic growth, healthcare and education is for Europe to end the CAP. Stopping trade-distorting subsidies will allow African products to be exported and stop European goods being sold more cheaply in Africa.
Sir Digby Jones, Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, 2005
As for the notion that [a] directive can be somehow modified or attenuated by British MPs, in the process of enactment into British law - well, that is a complete joke. I sit on European standing committee B, watching EU legislation come in like a tide, and there is nothing we can do to interrupt or object. We are far less use than the Russian Duma under Lenin. It is a farce, and it is no way to govern a country.
Boris Johnson, British MP, 2004
How can you defend the Common Agricultural Policy and then claim to support aid to Africa? Failing to reform the CAP means being responsible for the starvation of the world's poor.
Tony Blair, British Prime Minister [to Jacques Chirac, French President], 2002
What we should grasp, however, from the lessons of European history is that, first, there is nothing necessarily benevolent about programmes of European integration; second, the desire to achieve grand utopian plans often poses a grave threat to freedom; and third, European unity has been tried before, and the outcome was far from happy.
Margaret Thatcher, former British Prime Minister, c2001
In 30 years at sea I have never caught a whale, destroyed a dolphin... or dumped nuclear waste, but I have been forced by the EU to dump hundreds of tonnes of edible fish in the name of "euro-conservation".
George Stephen, Aberdeenshire fisherman, 2000
We have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them re-imposed at a European level, with a European superstate exercising a new dominance from Brussels.
Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, 1988
The most puzzling development in politics during the last decade is the apparent determination of Western European leaders to re-create the Soviet Union in Western Europe.
Mikhail Gorbachev, former Soviet President