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Monday, May 20, 2013

Too important for politicians

If there is one thing that is clear about the current controversy over Europe it is that the consequences of any decision to pull out are so serious that maybe there is a case for keeping politicians out of the debate altogether.

That is just a whimsical remark of course. After all many of those expressing a view on this matter could not and should not be silenced. But it does underline a basic point, which is that so far the real issues are not being discussed.

That is why an article in today's Independent is so important. They report that some of Britain’s most successful and eminent business leaders have accused Eurosceptic MPs of putting “politics before economics” and abandoning the national interest in their calls for Britain to leave the European Union.

They add that in a letter to the group issue a trenchant riposte to politicians who have argued that Britain’s economic interest would be better served outside the EU:

They also call for David Cameron to “strengthen and deepen” the European single market to boost Britain’s economy by £110bn.

The letter, which is signed by senior figures including the current and next presidents of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) as well as the chairmen of BT, Deloitte, Lloyds and Centrica, is the first co-ordinated response from the business community to increasing anti-European political rhetoric.

It reflects growing concern in the City that anti-European feeling is not being effectively countered by mainstream political leaders in the wake of last month’s local council elections.

The paper adds that in their letter the businessmen write that on a purely economic basis, exiting the EU would be deeply damaging to Britain:

“The economic case to stay in the EU is overwhelming,” they say. “To Britain, membership is estimated to be worth between £31bn and £92bn per year in income gains, or between £1,200 to £3,500 for every household.

“What we should now be doing is fighting hard to deliver a more competitive Europe, to combat the criticism of those that champion our departure. We should push to strengthen and deepen the Single Market to include digital, energy, transport and telecoms, which could boost Britain’s GDP by £110bn.”

Addressing concerns that European banking legislation is adversely affecting the City of London, the 19 business leaders say that the right answer is to fight for Britain’s interests inside the EU – rather than attempting to go it alone. “The City of London is Europe’s global financial centre,” they say. “Some of the EU’s ideas such as a cap on bankers’ bonuses put this standing at risk. So the Government needs to work hard to protect it.

“But there is also a huge opportunity to promote London’s capital markets to help solve the problems of the EU banking system. We should promote the cause of EU membership as well as defend our position.”

They conclude: “The benefits of membership overwhelmingly outweigh the costs, and to suggest otherwise is putting politics before economics.”

Some businessmen privately express concerns that were Britain to leave and place restrictions on foreign workers, other European countries would retaliate and make it harder for Britons to work in the EU.

There is also a non-economic case for staying the European Union, not least that it it provides an invaluable level of social and political cohesion to Europe and has helped us maintain peace on the continent for several generations. This really is more important than politics.
This might all be true, but is it not time to have a look how British companies charge for their services (helped by the EU regs)? Having lived in Holland which is very pro-EU there also now are voices. Voices to restructure the whole set-up wich has become so bureaucratic as defying its purpose.
We should be in the forefront in starting that process.
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