Britain has long been a centre of global commerce. The City of London is the world’s pre-eminent financial centre, sitting at the heart of a web of favourable time zones and trade routes, a position carved from historical legacy and modern innovation. London’s desire to be at the heart of international business has brought strength to the UK economy and benefited our trading partners, none more so than other countries in Europe.
The UK today stands at a different intersection. Our relationship with the European Union will determine the nation’s course for the next generation. We are not only a member of the European Union, but also one of its largest countries, policy leaders and of course its financial capital. The decision to stay within membership or exit will have lasting consequences for the UK and the rest of the EU. The business community has a duty to set out clearly, practically and leaving aside politics why it believes membership makes economic sense and how a reformed and better functioning European system can benefit every Member State and each European citizen.
Our industry is a strong advocate of the Single Market and a proponent of a strong UK in a reformed EU. We make this argument for economic not ideological reasons. However, the outcome of May’s European elections demonstrates that many people don’t feel the EU addresses the issues that matter most to them. Unless Europe reforms, the democratic deficit will increase undermining even the economic arguments for membership. It is with this urgency in mind that TheCityUK advocates rapid reform regardless of any future referendum.
To lead the debate on this issue, TheCityUK has published a considerable body of evidence about the importance of Britain’s membership of the EU. This policy conference, Britain’s place in Europe: developing policies for a reformed and competitive EU is an opportunity to build on our original research to set out a roadmap for EU reform. The articles in this pamphlet were written by our speakers and seek to demonstrate how London and other European financial centres have an important role to play in strengthening economic recovery, enhancing the EU’s global competitiveness and championing our industry’s role in the future growth of both the UK and Europe.
The Venetian bankers once sat safe at the economic heart of the trading world but the trade routes changed and the centre of power moved. The parallels with the City today are obvious. Complacency that we will find a way to compete in a new world order should not be allowed to undermine our existing advantageous position nor should we thoughtlessly drift away from an economic relationship that has brought benefit to every UK household. Europe needs reform. The UK can lead that process and in doing so cement its position as both the economic gateway to Europe and also the great reformer of the continent. Others will flock to that proud standard.