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A Matter of Public Importance? The ‘Europe Open for Business’ Campaign, British Public Opinion and the Single Market

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-944
Number of pages16
Issue number4
Early online date4 Feb 2021
E-pub ahead of print4 Feb 2021
PublishedJul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: I would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms and comments, which have helped significantly to improve the article. I am also extremely grateful for the advice and suggestions received for earlier drafts and versions of this article from Michael Kandiah and Piers Ludlow, as well as those attending the LSE HY509 International History Research Seminar in November 2019. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies published by University Association for Contemporary European Studies and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

King's Authors


This article offers a historical assessment of the ‘Europe Open for Business’ campaign, launched in 1988 by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government and related to the programme to complete the single market. The campaign, which greatly increased business awareness of the 1992 programme, was a unique propaganda exercise that emphasized the importance that the Conservatives attached to the single market. However, the campaign was undermined by Thatcher's September 1988 Bruges speech. Using contemporary public opinion data related to the single market, the article also argues that it was limited by the decision to target solely a business, rather than a public, audience. Through its assessment of the Europe Open for Business campaign, the article thus contributes to four areas of inquiry: British government propaganda over European integration; Conservative Party European policy; the growing literature on the Bruges speech; and broader debates on the role of publics in the European integration process.

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