Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

YES! by JOE KEENAN, Director of the North East in Europe Campaign. He Is a Graduate of Teesside Polytechnic and Lives in Marton

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

YES! by JOE KEENAN, Director of the North East in Europe Campaign. He Is a Graduate of Teesside Polytechnic and Lives in Marton

Article excerpt

Byline: By Joe Keenan Evening Gazette

It is now a matter of days until the government decides whether we are going to have a referendum on the euro.

With all the backwards and forwards between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair, and all the stories about who's up and who's down, its easy to forget what the debate on the euro is really about.

The decision the government is going to make will have a massive effect on real companies and real jobs here on Teesside, and right across the country. Postponing this choice yet again will have a real impact on employment and wealth-creation opportunities.

Here in the North-east our economy is dominated by manufacturing.

While our traditional industries like shipbuilding, steel-making and mining have experienced decline, we have become the world leaders in earning global investment projects securing an additional 35,000 jobs to the region and safeguarding many thousands more.

Most of those investments came to secure a manufacturing base from which to export to mainland Europe, with the expectation that the UK would join the single currency within a reasonable timeframe.

Our region - more than most other parts of the country - is dependent on our relationship with Europe. Three quarters of our exports are destined for mainland Europe.

This is at risk if we remain isolated from the euro because of a decision made in Whitehall and Westminster.

The threats to our region are not just vague hints, but very real warnings to key investments.

Chief among them are Black & Decker in County Durham, and Corus here on Teesside, where the exchange rate has been blamed as a key factor in the ability of foreign manufacturers to erode our home markets.

Floating exchange rates and the subsequent instability that this has brought to sterling has proved disastrous for the British Steel industry in particular. …

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