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EDITIONS
Monday, 20 May, 2002, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
New CBI head says no to euro
A variety of euro notes
The government needs business support
Business backing for the single currency is fading, according to the new head of the UK's biggest business lobbying group, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).


I am going into this with a spirit of inquiry but my going-in position would be sceptical

Sir John Egan
Sir John Egan, who takes over as president of the CBI on Tuesday, is a euro-sceptic.

And in a series of interviews to mark his new role he has made it clear that he remains opposed to joining the euro.

"The business community has swung from being broadly pro to being broadly neutral," he told the Financial Times.

At odds

"Strong arguments in favour of joining have yet to be made and my suspicion is that there aren't any," he added.

Sir John's views are at odds with some of his predecessors at the CBI.

Former director-general Adair Turner, and his president, Sir Clive Thompson, both campaigned in favour of the single currency.

And the majority of big companies which belong to the CBI are also pro-euro.

Political decision

But the CBI's current leaders, Director-General Digby Jones and Sir Iain Vallance, have gone along with the government position of supporting entry in principle if the conditions are right.
Sir John Egan
Sir John wants a substantial debate

When the organisation last surveyed its members about euro entry, three years ago, 52% were in favour, 16% against and 31% wanted to wait and see.

The new CBI president told the FT his advice to the government was: "Don't assume that business makes the difference.

"If your sole reason for going into the euro is that it will be better for business, then don't do it.

"It is more and more a political decision."

Paper bags

Sir John told the Independent that a long list of issues would have to be addressed before Britain could think about joining.

"Are we all going to into this blindfold with paper bags over our heads or are we actually going to know something about how predictable the results are going to be?" he asked.

He said the government needed to open a substantial debate on the politics surrounding the euro before business could decide whether or not it wanted to join.

His comments will dismay the government, which could hold a referendum on the euro within a year.

The new CBI leader told the Times: "I am going into this with a spirit of inquiry but my going-in position would be sceptical."

Sir John is a former chief executive of Jaguar and the airports operator BAA.

He will take over as president of the CBI from Sir Iain at the organisation's annual dinner on Tuesday evening.


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19 May 02 | UK Politics
07 May 02 | Business
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09 May 02 | Wales
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