TheCityUK has set out the first steps in its agenda for the vital reform needed to the EU to enhance the region’s competitiveness and realise its job creation and economic growth ambitions. In a speech by Lord Green, Chairman of TheCityUK’s Advisory Council, at TheCityUK’s Annual Dinner last night, the business organisation called for structural and institutional reform and affirmed the need for stronger engagement by business in order to drive EU reform.
The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, also spoke last night at TheCityUK’s event, which was supported by Mayer Brown and hosted by kind permission of The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor of London at the Mansion House.
Lord Green called for the reforms set out in TheCityUK’s paper: EU Reform – A view from TheCityUK, and said, “It is not good enough to shout from the side-lines and treat Europe as something that does unwelcome things to us…or to put forward demands on the basis of British exceptionalism. The EU needs reform – radical reform – that is in our interests and those of the EU as a whole.” He also spoke of the important role the financial and related professional services industry has in realising the enormous potential of a more modern, flexible and dynamic European economy.
According to TheCityUK, refocusing the EU’s work to deliver the core principles of subsidiarity and proportionality – ‘Europe where necessary, national where possible’ – will give the EU the focus and foundation of reform. The paper stresses the fundamental significance of implementing a broader and deeper Single Market as the main driver of economic growth and as the bedrock of Europe’s future. The development of an integrated and vibrant Single Capital Market across the EU is a critical component of this task.
In his speech, Lord Green made it clear that a strong and stable Eurozone should be in the interests of all 28 Member States, not just those in the Eurozone, but it is essential that the governance of the Eurozone does not function in a way that compromises the building of the Single Market. TheCityUK also proposes structural and institutional reforms to ensure this happens:
- The rigorous application of the principle of non-discrimination between Member States in financial services.
- A provision that non-Eurozone Member States have permanent observer arrangements at Eurogroup meetings.
- The formation of a Single Market Council, to replace the current Competitiveness Council, which would bring sustained focus on single market issues.
- The consideration of a permanent chair of the Single Market as well as of the Eurogroup in the European Council.
Lord Green said, “The UK is not alone is calling for a reformed EU: other Member States have produced reform proposals and it is in the interests of all that the EU should work better. The predominant view of businesses, both in the financial sector and more generally in the economy, is a belief that Britain belongs in a competitive reformed Europe.
“It is essential for the EU to face outwards and recognise the importance of flexibility and competitiveness in the global marketplace and we therefore welcome President Juncker’s emphasis on jobs, growth, subsidiarity and better regulation.”
At last night’s dinner, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs, The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP said: “I’m very pleased to be speaking tonight at TheCityUK’s annual dinner. Since becoming Foreign Secretary, one of my priorities has been to make sure our foreign policy plays an even greater role in supporting British businesses as part of our long term economic plan.
“This evening is an important opportunity to underline the benefits of a Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, to set out the need for European reform and to hear what more British Diplomats can do to support trade and investment overseas in order to create jobs and growth here at home.”
Sean Connelly, Senior Partner at Mayer Brown, said, “Decisions about the future direction of the EU and the UK’s place within the EU are vital to the long term success of the City and the UK at large. In setting out an agenda for EU reform, TheCityUK has provided a constructive and focused view of the steps that are necessary to facilitate the EU’s growth, increase its competitiveness and ensure its future success. We believe in the need for reform and we also believe that it is essential that EU developments are robust and legally certain, as well as effective and workable. We were, therefore, delighted to be part of the working group that created this work and look forward to our future collaboration."