by Danny Barrs, Founder and Owner, Global Transaction Services LLC ///
I should perhaps start by admitting that my interest in the EU project is as much personal as it is commercial. I have lived and worked in Britain, France, Germany and Luxembourg and my 3 children and 4 grandchildren have been born in 3 different European countries.
I started my entrepreneurial career in the mid-1980s in France where I set up a small businesses in the computer industry which operated throughout Europe, at one point employing 120 employees, in 9 subsidiaries, in 8 countries – of which 7 were in the European Union (EU).
Since then my activities have gravitated away from the computer industry towards financial services and software and systems for that industry, but my commercial activities have always been dependent upon the opportunities that the EU has given us.
From its inception in the late 80s, throughout the 90s and up until today, the EU’s Single Market made a huge difference for our group of companies. As a matter of fact, without it we would not have been able to trade at all.
Which is why I consider it so bizarre that we today find ourselves in a situation where we are told by some ‘experts’ that leaving the EU will have no detrimental effect on the UK. Well, here we are with our company licensed by the UK Financial Conduct Authority and that license has been ‘passported’ throughout the EU. Being part of the EU allows us to operate across the Single Market. This is also why so many non-EU companies base themselves in the UK, to take advantage of that passporting facility and trade across the EU. A recent survey by TheCityUK found that 40% of the firms asked said that Britain’s membership of the EU was a core reason why they set up their business in London. If the UK were to leave the EU, what would happen to these fundamental arrangements?
As a responsible entrepreneur, I cannot afford to wait for someone else to decide the fate of our company. At the first whiff of a UK withdrawal from the EU we would have to move our main UK operations to the EU – most likely Paris.
Of course, we are a small internet based company with no fixed assets, easier to move than a large corporation. But multiply that by the thousands – yes thousands – of small (and not so small) companies that will find themselves in similar positions. Many of these companies will be those, like ours, that the UK has struggled to attract and keep to these shores over the last few years. All these companies are responsible for employing people and creating growth.
Another EU project that has made a difference to business is the single currency. We, as a business, work with the Euro every day. We profit from the fact that it operates as an alternative reserve currency and that international trade is not just paid for in US Dollars. One thing that is often ignored or misunderstood in the press and beyond concerns the footprint of the Euro. When we listen to some economists it is easy to assume that the only people that use the Euro are those in the Eurozone. I recently had a case of an American company needing Euros to buy products in Turkey. Because the Turkish company sources its products in the Eurozone it needs to eliminate exchange risk in order to offer best prices worldwide. Moreover, if a Czech company trades with a Polish company, though both are outside the Eurozone, they will still tend to use the Euro. Can anyone really envisage a return to multiple currencies within Europe? Who would actually benefit from that except foreign exchange companies and banks?
European companies, and that includes British companies, small and big, profit handsomely from the existence of the Single Market. Both in terms of our intra-EU trade but as also in the opportunities the Single Market afford us when trading with the world. As someone who has run a business and has operated and traded across Europe for decades I can say that leaving the EU and removing ourselves from the Single Market will have very harmful consequences for our business and our ability to employ people.
Author : European Movement UK