European Economic & Monetary Union: Britain Cannot Afford to Be Left in Isolation

The Birmingham Post (England), October 20, 1998 | Go to article overview

European Economic & Monetary Union: Britain Cannot Afford to Be Left in Isolation


The CBI policy stance on EMU is based on extensive member consultation which has taken place over the last few years.

This has shown that while a significant minority of businesses would like to see membership ruled out for the foreseeable future - a view strongly felt by some West Midlands business people - most back a commitment to enter in time, under the right cond itions.

The case for UK participation rests on the many potential advantages of the project, but also the potential disadvantages of staying outside a successful EMU.

For us "the right conditions" mean progress in Europe towards, rather than away from, fiscal sustainability and more flexible labour markets.

It also means the right point in the UK's economic cycle combined with a sustainable exchange rate at entry.

The severe pain currently being suffered by our exporters from a strong pound, and the difficulties for economic management which result, are cited by some as a case for gong in providing the risks can be reduced.

Britain has an interest in EMU being successful, and we must argue in Europe for the necessary action to make it a success.

The single currency will be a catalyst for enormous structural change in Europe, and should in time make the EU a much more competitive trading area

The UK has close trade links with Europe and UK business simply cannot ignore changes of this scale in our business environment.

The CBI has been working for some time now, both separately and with other partners in the West Midlands, to alert companies to the challenges ahead, and the need to think about how the introduction of the euro will affect business.

The changes stem from further integration of the single market with price transparency and end of market segregation.

EMU should create a large, liquid euro market that will present a number of investment and funding opportunities for companies.

There should also be ample room for a more effective and streamlined structure in treasury activities with a pan-European capital market.

Many more options will be available for companies to raise funds.

Although the UK will remain outside for the time being, the euro will bring about massive change in Europe, a major UK trading partner.

Some people say that it presents threats.

A more positive view is that it presents opportunities for businesses that are prepared for it. Understanding and awareness will be critical.

Any company that has business links with the Euro-11 countries will be exposed to the euro, whether the UK joins or not.

This implies the vast majority of UK businesses - certainly the majority of West Midlands businesses, with our high levels of exports, and substantial inward investment by Euro-11 headquartered or owned businesses. …

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