If on a summer’s night: is UK businesses’ “new deal” the only key to the “best of all worlds”?

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, on the left, and Johannes Hahn, presenting the brochure entitled "The Crystal: a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens", EC Audiovisual Services,  28/02/2014

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, on the left, and Johannes Hahn, presenting the brochure entitled “The Crystal: a sustainable cities initiative by Siemens”, EC Audiovisual Services, 28/02/2014

If you are a loyal reader of the European Sting, or at least a well-informed European citizen, you will certainly know that surveys don’t really bring good news for the Union. Anytime a new survey about the public opinion around the bloc comes out, the European Parliament is shaking a bit. “People are not really interested…”, “EU politicians not popular…” are just a few of the (quite disturbing) outcomes we use in the last few years, but there’s still space in a more “business oriented” side.

The UK is the EU’s restless child this time. A recent survey by the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) revealed that more than half of British companies want to re-negotiate their relationship with the European Union. Around 60 percent of more than 3,200 businesses surveyed in the BCC’s latest EU Business Barometer believe that transferring specific powers back to Westminster would be positive for the UK economy.

True is that the majority of firms – 59 percent – are against a UK exit from the EU, but on the other hand we have almost half of firms surveyed (46 percent) believing that further integration with the EU would hinder the UK’s economic prospects.

John Longworth, BCC Director General, commented: “These results show that firms believe a renegotiated relationship with the EU, rather than further integration or outright withdrawal, is most likely to deliver economic benefit for the UK”. He also added with no hesitation that “[UK firms] do not want to get caught up in the whirlpool of further integration”, and that only 20% of them think that this would be somehow beneficial.

Well, we see that Mr. Longworth’s opinion is clear and exactly aligned with the poll’s outcome: the best thing for the UK would be remaining in the EU but after a careful re-negotiation of the relationship. This was also reported by many newspapers. “It is our preference to stay in the free trade area and renegotiate our relationship because that would give us the best of all worlds,” said Mr. Longworth. Clear enough.

The BCC’s Director General has made no mystery of his opinion since long time ago (famous was his letter published on the Guardian, in which he already declared that re-negotiating the UK’s position in the union is in the “national interest” – cit.), although numbers – and surverys! – seem now to be strong allies. It is also the general political situation to lay a hand towards those who think that the UK deserves “the best of all worlds”.

Many analysts believe that a lot of turmoil is already perceived due to the 2017 proposed referendum of UK membership of the European Union. Indeed after Prime Minister David Cameron promised an “in/out” referendum on British membership of the European Union in 2017, if the Conservative Party wins an outright majority at the next General Election in 2015, nothing has ever been the same. So everyone should consider this while analyzing the current situation in the UK.

A recent report commissioned by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and reported by the Telegraph, predicted that – following a UK exit – London’s gross domestic product (GDP) would grow from £350bn today to £640bn by 2034 if Britain’s stayed in a reformed EU, compared with £615 bn over the next 20 years if it exited but adopted outward-looking trade policies. However, it warned that maintaining the status quo would see London’s GDP expand to just £495 bn by 2034.So everything seems to endorse the outcome of the latest poll by BCC.

Now I would like to challenge Mr. Longworth and our readers by introducing a sort of opportunity cost though. What if this analysis was considering only Mayor Johnson’s report, and not an extra one? That is UK staying not only in the EU but also being part of the Eurozone. Yes, I know this is some kind of pie in the sky, but please allow me this comment: are we sure that those results consider also the opportunity cost of not staying in a Eurozone that would be probably much more powerful with the UK? Why does the solution need to be always to run away when instead we can sit around the same table, balance our cultural differences, and come to mutually beneficial agreements? Why do British politicians need to act based upon past and anachronistic partisanship feelings of the electorate instead of taking the next step to educate them with political ‘evolution’? 

Mr. Longworth knows perfectly that a further Eurozone integration, with more members and more markets, would leave the UK in an increasingly isolated position if UK does not jump in the train. Indeed he recently declared that “the Eurozone is increasingly becoming the decision-making centre of Europe”. He also added that “if in five or 10 years’ time the Eurozone makes all the big decisions, and the UK is not in the Eurozone but is in the EU, we will have all of the rules and none of the influence”; thus my point is, what if the plan was to have an additional choice in the politics of the island, with a more involved UK, instead of a sort of escape plan? For sure an isolated position of the UK would harm the national interests, but why not considering another way?

After all if it’s true that theories in economics are more than often based on assumptions rather than on facts, it would also be true that unconventional ideas are sometimes less dangerous than not challenging ourselves at all. And I am sure that unconventional ideas have occurred to UK politicians’ minds. What I am not sure though, is whether these leaders are able to behave like ones and challenge the conservative electorate to think otherwise, in a modern, more cooperative manner; for the good of the UK, for the good of Europe.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

New EU rules ensure better protection for 120 million holidaymakers this summer

European Border and Coast Guard: 10 000-strong standing corps by 2027

Google succumbs unconditionally to EU’s “right to be forgotten” ruling

COVID-19 will hit the developing world’s cities hardest. Here’s why

Tributes for ‘role model’ former UN refugee agency chief, Sadako Ogata

The big five EU telecom operators in dire straights

AI can wreak havoc if left unchecked by humans

Clamp down on illegal trade in pets, urge Public Health Committee MEPs

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

We are ‘burning up our future’, UN’s Bachelet tells Human Rights Council

Hydrogen isn’t the fuel of the future. It’s already here

5 ways COVID-19 has changed workforce management

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

EU job-search aid worth €2 million for 500 former shipbuilding workers in Spain

France pushes UK to stay and Germany to pay

Where EU air pollution is deadliest

China rare earth prices soar on their potential role in trade war

Harmonised Unemployment Rates (HURs), OECD – Updated: February 2020

UN spotlights wellbeing of seafarers on International Day

‘Much more’ can be done to raise awareness about the plight of persons with albinism: UN chief

UN-backed intercultural dialogue forum urged to keep working to ‘bridge gap between the like-minded’

EU joint response to disasters: deal reached with Council

Combatting terrorism: Parliament sets out proposals for a new EU strategy

This South Korean city once had the biggest coronavirus outbreak outside of China. Now it’s reported zero new cases

Commission moves to ensure supply of personal protective equipment in the European Union

5 crises that could worsen under COVID-19

Finland has just published everyone’s taxes on ‘National Jealousy Day’

ITU Telecom World 2017: exploring smart digital transformation

European Parliament calls on Russia to end occupation of Georgian territories

5 neuroscience hacks that will make you happier

RescEU: MEPs vote to upgrade EU civil protection capacity

All for equality – 2020 is a pivotal year for Gender Equality

Deeper reforms in Korea will ensure more inclusive and sustainable growth

UN Climate Action Summit concludes with insufficient EU and global pledges

Milk, fruits and vegetables distributed to schoolchildren thanks to EU programme

China’s cities are rapidly becoming more competitive. Here’s why

Security Council must ‘come together’ to address the plight of children trapped in armed conflict, says UN envoy

EU Migrant Crisis: Italian Coast Guard Headquarters and Italian Navy to give host national opening addresses at Border Security 2016 in Rome

New EU-UK agreement is welcome but thorough scrutiny remains, insist lead MEPs

Coal addiction ‘must be overcome’ to ease climate change, UN chief says in Bangkok

EU27 leaders unite on Brexit Guidelines ahead of “tough negotiations” with Theresa May

How to get young people in Europe to swipe right on voting

This is Amsterdam’s ambitious plan to turn its transport electric

Reforms in Latvia must result in stronger enforcement to tackle foreign bribery and subsequent money laundering risks

Parliament boosts consumer rights online and offline

What is systemic racism, and how can we combat it?

EU Council approves visa-free travel for Ukraine and cement ties with Kiev

Powering a climate-neutral economy: Commission sets out plans for the energy system of the future and clean hydrogen

Marginalized groups hit hardest by inequality and stigma in cities

OECD joins with Japan to fight financial crime by establishing new academy

The business case for diversity in the workplace is now overwhelming

EU Parliament and Council: Close to agreement on the bank resolution mechanism

Poor quality is healthcare’s silent killer. Here’s what we can do about it

ECB asks for more subsidies to banks

Global trade is broken. Here are five ways to rebuild it

Intervene, don’t overthink – the new mantra of systems design

We need natural solutions to fight ocean and climate risk

EU Parliament: No EU-US trade agreement without safe data

The MWC14 Sting Special Edition

Italy and Greece zeroed their fiscal deficits, expect Germany’s response

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s