I was honoured to be invited to speak at the Demi siècle London dinner this week. The theme of my address was the opportunity created by a revitalised Anglo-French relationship. For me it is fundamental to the prospect of a more dynamic and prosperous Europe. Our two countries have a longstanding interconnected relationship and a shared history, but must work together to guarantee a globally competitive EU. The ties of history and culture between the UK and France have been long and enduring, France is our neighbour, ally and friend. France has shown the UK many things; how to enjoy fine cuisine, appreciate great art and culture and the importance of style – or to try anyway!
We have welcomed French compatriots to London – up to 400,000 by recent estimates - so many in fact that London has been described London as France’s 6th biggest city. As our Mayor London Boris Johnson has pointed out, in London today, our streets are cleaned by French companies, our water is treated by a French company, electricity is generated by a French company and the red buses belong to a French company. London wouldn’t function without French expertise and support.
The links between France and the UK are clear, especially with regards to financial services. Our financial links with France and with the EU are fundamental to our prosperity.
• Within the EU, the UK has the largest surplus in financial services trade with France and the Netherlands - around £3bn each. France is ranked third globally behind the US and Netherlands as an export destination for UK financial services.
• France is ranked fourth globally behind the US, Germany and Netherlands in terms of countries from which the UK is importing financial services.
• French firms account for a fifth of the 172 companies in the UK with EU majority ownership.
When Oscar Wilde said that the only thing worse than being talked about was NOT being talked about, he could have had the UK’s relationship with the EU in mind. The Prime Minister’s speech about a proposed EU referendum has allowed a sensible, business based, economic discussion of the matter which was not previously possible.
We believe it is the evidence based argument that needs to be heard. At TheCityUK we are committed to providing robust and regular research and analysis to inform policymakers’ views on the developing European debate. Looking to our future in Europe, it is worth noting that the UK financial services industry does not just prosper from its ties with the EU. The EU prospers from having London, the global financial centre, as its hub and entry point for international business; it is a mutually beneficial relationship.
The economic benefit of our links with EU is demonstrable. The EU is the biggest single market for UK exports of financial services, generating a trade surplus of £16.6bn, or 37% of our total trade surplus in financial services in 2012 (£44.9 bn).
The UK and France now have the opportunity to work together in financial services to rebuild Europe’s dynamism and to encourage and support entrepreneurship, a word we borrowed from the French and something crucial to the future of sustainable economic growth and job creation across the whole of the EU.
The Prime Minister had plenty to discuss with President Obama in Washington this week. It is welcome news, as he said in his speech from Washington on Monday, that he and the President found time to share their thinking on bringing about a successful EU-US agreement on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Howard Miller, Director of Policy and Public Affairs recently wrote for British Influence in support of the UK's challenge on Financial Transaction Tax.
Hamish Rowan-Hamilton discusses the future of International Financial Centres.
Howard Miller gives a summary of our successful Leeds seminar with the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP.
Sam Tripuraneni of add-victor discusses the meaning of diversity in the workplace.
John Cooke comments on the crisis in Cyprus from Ireland, offering the perspective of Irish media.
The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, discusses the strong UK/Turkish relationship to build bilateral trade following his business visit to Turkey.
Chris Cummings on the launch of the second phase of the UK Government's Legal Services Plan for Growth, describing how the sector can work together to ensure the UK maintains its global position and leading reputation for client service.
The third in our series of Fairness in Finance seminars took place this week in Liverpool, where Santander hosted a gathering of financial and professional services industry employees, third sector representatives, trade unionists, policymakers and academics to discuss what fairness means in a North-West context.