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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 14:52 GMT
The case for joining the euro
Simon Buckby, director of the Britain in Europe campaign, makes the case for UK entry to the euro


Recently, euro-sceptic commentators have formed a consensus that the result of the assessment of the euro will be negative and the issue will be shelved until after the next general election at the earliest. I do not share this view.

The government have said that the euro decision will be made in the national economic interest, and we must take them at their word.

If the national economic interest is the determining factor, a negative conclusion is unimaginable in the face of mounting evidence that Britain is paying a high economic price for isolation.

Foreign investment has been a cornerstone of Britain's economic prosperity for a generation
Foreign investment has been a cornerstone of Britain's economic prosperity for a generation.

Thousands of foreign businesses employing hundreds of thousands of people have brought new skills and innovations to our country, raising productivity and boosting prosperity.

Remarkable

For the 20 years prior to 1999, Britain received an average of 28.9 per cent of all foreign investment in Europe.

This remarkable record was achieved for many reasons, but particularly because Britain offered them equal access to the wider European market of 370 million consumers.

On 1 January 1999, Britain's decision to stay out of the euro tilted the playing field against us - investors locating in Britain now have to bear costs and uncertainty of currency volatility that they can avoid if they base themselves in the euro countries.

As a result, Britain attracted only 16.7% of foreign investment in Europe in 2001, and the UN forecast that this would fall to only 5.1% in 2002.

The same problems are arising for trade. Britain has always been a trading nation - our success and prosperity depends on buying and selling abroad.

Today, half of our trade is with the European Union. The fall in world trade is a major cause of Britain's recent economic difficulties.

Price

But while Britain is under pressure, the euro countries are seeing their trade with each rise dramatically because they now have the same currency.

Germany's trade with other EU countries has risen by 18% since 1999, while Britain's has fallen slightly.

Britain is already paying an economic price for staying out of the euro, which gives us a hint of what life would be like if we decide to stay out permanently.

The choice facing Britain is not whether or not to stay as we are now. We have to choose between greater stability and rising prosperity in the euro or isolation if we stay out.

That is a choice that the British people have the right to decide in a referendum.

I am confident that they will get the chance to make that choice soon.



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