Britain and Europe
of the 39th Academic Year of the College of Europe,
Bruges, September 20, 1988
You have invited me to speak on the subject of Britain and Europe. Perhaps I should congratulate you on your courage. If you believe some of the things said and written about my views in Europe, it must seem rather like inviting Genghis Khan to speak on the virtues of peaceful co-existence! I want to start by disposing of some myths about my country, Britain, and its relationship with Europe. And to do that I must say something about the. identify of Europe itself.
Europe is not the creation of the Treaty of Rome. Nor is the European idea the property of any group or institution. We British are as much heirs to the legacy of European culture as any other nation. Our links to the rest of Europe, the continent of Europe, have been the dominant factor in our history. For three hundred years we were part of the Roman Empire, and our maps still trace the straight lines of the roads the Romans built. Our ancestors--Celts, Saxons, and Danes--came from the continent. Our nation was--in that favourite Community word--"restructured" under Norman and Angevin rule in the eleventh and twelfth centuries.
This year we celebrate the three hundredth anniversary of the Glorious Revolution in which the British crown passed to Prince William of Holland and Queen Mary. Visit the great Churches and Cathedrals of Britain, read our literature, and listen to our language: all bear witness to the cultural riches which we have drawn from Europe--and Europeans from us. We in Britain are rightly proud of the way in which, since Magna Carta in 1215,