BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: In Depth: 2002: Business Day  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Business Day Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 19:10 GMT
Euro debate divides business community
Willie McKeown, owner of Yardmaster, Draperstown, County Londonderry
Willie McKeown says his company would benefit from the euro
Northern Ireland's business community remains divided on the introduction of the euro.

BBC Newsline reporter Tara Mills speaks to two businessmen who have very different views on the direction of the local economy in terms of the single European currency.

The debate about the euro is usually most heated along the border. But in Draperstown, County Londonderry, what happens in Brussels has more impact than you might think.

Willie McKeown built up his business, Yardmaster, from scratch. It is one of the biggest employers in Draperstown making it crucial for the economy of the whole village.


At the moment we have 10 new countries in the queue for Europe and those are all potential customers

Willie McKeown
Pro-euro

He wants to see Britain join the euro.

The company manufactures steel garden sheds exporting across Europe and the rest of the world.

Five years ago 75% of his business was in Europe, but Mr McKeown has noticed European growth has slowed since the euro was introduced.

He is worried that enlargement could make that situation worse.

Fluctuations

"At the moment we have 10 new countries in the queue for Europe and those are all potential customers," he said.

"Business with those new countries will be difficult with a low economy, a different currency and a different language.

"At least if you had a common currency that would be something to start with."

Apart from the practical benefits, Mr McKeown believes joining the euro would remove any risk to business caused by fluctuations in the exchange rate between sterling and the euro.

"Most engineering companies are doing quite well if they are in single figure profits, so if you had a fluctuation of 5-10% and your profits were 5% then obviously you have got big problems."


If we go into the euro suddenly there are unelected people in the continent of Europe and we have very little access to them

Bill Jeffrey
Anti-euro
Bill Jeffrey represents the other side of this argument.

He runs a training consultancy in Lisburn, and is running the local campaign against joining the euro.

"In Northern Ireland everything is economy, economy, economy and I don't think we can afford to join the euro.

"Look at what is happening in Germany and in France. We have the lowest unemployment in 25 years."

Mr Jeffrey's also worried that joining the euro would result in higher taxes and higher interest rates. And it would take control of the currency out of our hands.

"We can talk to people we know and we can make direct representations to the Bank of England.

"If we go into the euro suddenly there are unelected people in the continent of Europe and they control our destiny and we have very little access to them."

Your view on the euro is likely to be determined by where you live, or if your livelihood depends on it.

It is hard to see how the business community could ever agree on the best way forward.

See also:

05 Nov 02 | Business Day
30 Aug 02 | Business
25 Sep 02 | Business
29 Aug 02 | Business
30 Aug 02 | Business
14 Oct 02 | Business
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Business Day stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Business Day stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes