I am a young, British professional and I consider myself to be European as much as British. This is a view that many of my peers share. If we get to the point where we have to vote in or out on Europe, I know where my vote lies, and I can most likely speak for the majority of my generation. We face an issue however, as the older generations are much more likely to vote than the younger – if only you could vote online, you’d see the number of young voters increase hundredfold. This is why we must not take for granted the advantages that the EU brings this country, and I must urge young people to use their vote to protect the EU.
Generation Y has never known a UK separate to the EU and for that reason it is hard for us to comprehend what it would be like – I also don't think that the repercussions of a 'Brexit' have been strongly enough voiced. Research that TheCityUK commissioned shows that there is a huge gap between the older generations and Gen Y when it comes to the in/out decision. That research can be found here in full.
The older generation remembers times when the EU did not exist, and they feel that to an extent we are losing our self determination through the EU. I believe that the EU has only served to diversify our country and make it more of an amazing place to live and work. We take for granted the extent of the benefits the EU has brought our generation culturally, socially and economically. We live in a truly multinational country and the EU has greatly contributed to this. We must not allow our country to move backwards and undo all of the good work that has been done thus far. We should be looking to a stronger and more integrated European future, not harking back to 50s Britain.
It is an amazing thing that I can travel freely and easily within the EU and that we have a truly mutually beneficial relationship with other EU countries, one of peace and respect. If I wanted to, it would be easy for me to work anywhere else within Europe – in fact, many companies encourage this. In the same way, I could study anywhere in Europe that would have me, without red tape or barriers. This is creating a new generation of European businesspeople, the benefits of which are clear to see.
You can start up a business in the UK and fairly easily do business with the EU. There are a huge number of exciting developments in the start-up space at the moment, and the EU marketplace and the ease of access to it is a huge part of this.
If we left the EU, all of this would change. I think that there would be a shift in the attitude towards the UK in terms of our European neighbours which would be a huge shame. We would have to renegotiate trade deals, the free movement of persons would no doubt be affected and it would not be as easy to do business with the EU. The EU is not perfect and there are some things that need to change, but we would have no say in that change from the outside looking in.
Friday 14 February saw a TheCityUK hat-trick, with the London launch of the Atlantic Council’s Report "The Danger of Divergence: Transatlantic Financial Reform & the G20 Agenda". Coming after the Brussels launch in the European Parliament (12 February) and the earlier launch on Capitol Hill in Washington DC (29 January) this third launch event (at Thomson-Reuters, Canary Wharf) was the culmination of a concerted effort between the Atlantic Council (as producers of the Report) and Thomson-Reuters and TheCityUK (as joint sponsors) to ensure maximum attention for a timely contribution to transatlantic debate.
Heralded by good tidings (“Whitehall studies see benefits of Europe”) in the day’s Financial Times, last Friday saw the publication of the Reports arising from the Second Semester of the Government’s Review of the Balance of Competences between the UK and the EU. These were – after some delay – eight of the expected reports, covering the Internal Market (free movement of goods); Asylum & Immigration; Trade & Investment; Environment; Transport; Research & Development; Tourism, Culture & Sport; and Civil Justice. One remaining report - Internal Market (free movement of persons) – is not being published yet, and is said to be likely to be unveiled in some weeks or months, maybe coinciding with the release of Third Semester Reports.
The home of Senatorial inquiries for over fifty years was the site of TheCityUK’s first presentation on Capitol Hill. Unlike the venue of last month’s TheCityUK evidence session at the House of Lords, United States Senate Room SD-562 was one of the first purpose-built, press and TV-friendly, hearing rooms of its kind in the world.
It’s always interesting to visit another EU member-state, particularly one presenting a degree of contrast with the United Kingdom both in size and in attitudes to the EU. This time TradeWonk visited Ireland - to be exact Sligo, in Ireland’s far west, for the W B Yeats Winter School. Yeats himself of course had plenty to say about crises, although in “The Second Coming” he may or may not have had twenty-first century financial turmoil particularly in mind:
Attracting and keeping the best people is crucial in the financial and professional services industry. These issues are certainly central to NGV’s aims for the future of the UK’s financial sector: growing companies that are connected to and an integral part of their communities. But in the market for talent, the UK’s sector is competing with global opportunities and growth industries such as technology and engineering.
The Financial Times’ reflective weekend leaders always make for interesting reading – none more so than the thoughtful piece headed “The City and the European Union” on Saturday 25 January. Coming at the end of a week in which the European Court of Justice upheld EU rules on short-selling against a UK challenge, and the House of Lords returned the EU Referendum Bill to the Commons, the Financial Times sought to find a point of balance in the arguments, making the point that “London’s advantages as a financial centre were never down to the light-touch regulation of the boom years, and tougher rules will not dull the attractiveness of the sort of finance the UK should wish to host. Since the crisis Britain has been at the forefront of regulatory reform, intellectually and in practical terms. Brussels is less likely to weigh on UK regulators to be tough on banks than it is to force other countries to catch up with UK standards”.
Britain is the only country – so far - with a building named after Free Trade. Could Capitol Hill be the next? For services, it really matters.
Irwin Stelzer’s article in yesterday’s Sunday Times “Free Trade is a boon but there’s no votes in it” was a sobering reflection on the choices and chances besetting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as it starts its way through both Houses of the US Congress. Introduced ten days ago (9 January) the Bill, if enacted, would ease the way for the US Administration to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership, (TPP), the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA).
Just how important is the EU debate to the City of London? Extremely, judging by the crowd who packed into Fishmongers Hall first thing this morning, to listen to a panel discussion on that very topic. I spoke on a panel at Newgate Communications’ seminar alongside UKIP leader Nigel Farage, Conservative MEP Dr Charles Tannock and the Daily Telegraph’s Peter Oborne. The Chairperson, Newgate’s Eben Black, posed us a simple question: is it better for the City if Britain remains in the EU or leaves it?
On 15-16 January, Open Europe and the Fresh Start Project ran their Pan-European Conference on EU Reform. On behalf of TheCityUK, I attended for Day 1 – devoted to a full agenda of discussion under the banner “Economic Reform for EU Growth and Competitiveness”.