Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Forget about an Exit -- We Must Stay in and Maximise Benefits; the City in Europe Will Square Mile Prosper If Britain Leaves the EU? Evening Standard Debate

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Forget about an Exit -- We Must Stay in and Maximise Benefits; the City in Europe Will Square Mile Prosper If Britain Leaves the EU? Evening Standard Debate

Article excerpt

Byline: Win Bischoff

EVER since Messrs Monnet and Schuman put forward the proposal for the European Coal and Steel Community in the early 1950s, the "Europe" question has been a contentious issue for Britain. The current in-out debate is the latest manifestation of the emotions stirred up by this issue. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.

It is natural to have an initial emotional response to the question of whether Britain should stay in or exit the EU. But, as a businessman, my conviction is to put emotion to one side. An objective cost-benefit analysis of the economic facts, rather than ideology, must be the basis for this decision. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.

So what are the facts? I would like to touch on the relevance of EU membership for two important elements of competitiveness of the UK economy as a whole: market opportunities and investment. On both elements, the figures are substantial.

As a recent report by THECITYUK points out, the EU's single market gives UK business access to the world's largest market, with half a billion people, generating about [pounds sterling]10 trillion in gross added value. To put this into context, this is an economic zone that is larger than the US and Japan put together. The EU currently accounts for more than half our total exports.

Another significant benefit to the UK from EU membership is the inward foreign direct investment that it attracts to these shores. A fact confirmed by surveys is that companies often locate in the UK precisely because the UK is inside the EU and has access to the single market. Were it to leave the EU, some companies might in turn decide to leave the UK or at least reduce future investment here. If such a reduction or exodus were to occur, there would be real financial implications for the UK -- including in terms of jobs, skills base, innovation and tax revenue. …

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