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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 04:49 GMT 05:49 UK
City leaders call for euro debate
More than 50 leading figures from the world of finance have called on the government to begin a debate on Britain's future in Europe and the single currency.

The lobby group called The City in Europe have written a letter to the Financial Times, saying their aim is to "promote public understanding of the importance to Britain of playing a leading role in the European Union".

They also intend to "stress the importance of preparing to join the single currency".

Among the backers of the campaign are Peter Sutherland, the chairman of Goldman Sachs, Lord Kingsdown, former governor of the Bank of England and Conservative peer Lord Brittan of Spennithorne, the former European Commission vice-president.


We also stress the importance of preparing to join the single currency and of explaining the benefits of joining a successful single currency for financial services and the economy

The City in Europe
In their letter they say that the City would benefit if Britain plays a leading role in Europe and adopts a successful euro.

"We also stress the importance of preparing to join the single currency and of explaining the benefits of joining a successful single currency for financial services and the economy as a whole," they write.

Debate heating up

Before there is a referendum on euro entry Chancellor Gordon Brown wants to be sure that adopting the single currency would not damage the City.

It is one of the five economic tests set by the government before they will recommend membership of the euro - which would then be decided in a referendum.

The Chancellor made it clear last week that there would be no sudden dash for euro membership, and the government has said it will take up to two years to make a proper economic assessment.

However, the debate among business leaders and economists over the benefits and costs of the UK's membership of the single currency is already heating up.

Later this week the group Business for Sterling which wants to keep the pound plans to unveil its own research endorsed by other senior City figures.

The group says this shows the City would be more profitable and competitive if Britain remained outside the eurozone.

And rival groups of economists, some based in City firms and some academics, have produced their own assessment of whether the UK meets the five economic tests.

The latest is expected to be published later today by the respected think tank, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mary Gahan
"53 people in effect are not that many"
Gerry Holtham of Morely Financial Management
"I would be very surprised if there weren't a strong majority in the city in favour of entering the EU"
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