Britain’s managers have become sharply anti-euro over the past 18 months, according to a survey published last week by the Institute of Management (IM)
If the Government were to hold a referendum tomorrow, 61 per cent would vote NOT to join, while only 29 per cent would vote in favour of the UK becoming part of the European single currency. This compares with 47 per cent in favour, and 43 per cent against, in a similar survey in May, 1999.
The quick reaction survey conducted among IM members last week also shows that less than a third (32 per cent) of those who responded had facilities to process payments in euros – a percentage point down on a year and a half ago. Nearly half (48 per cent) had no facility for processing euro payments, invoicing in euros, borrowing in euros or banking in euros.
Despite this lack of preparation, 50 per cent of respondents believed the UK’s entry into the euro-zone was inevitable in the next 10 years, with 38 per cent disagreeing. And 50 per cent believed that – in the long term – it would create a more flexible and competitive European economy, with 38 per cent believing it would not. And 51 per cent believed the UK would eventually join the euro-zone because the costs of remaining outside would become increasingly apparent, while 35 per cent took the opposite view.
The vast bulk of managers had little confidence in the European Central Bank. Seventy two per cent believed the bank had not handled monetary policy competently since the launch of the single currency, with a mere 14 per cent believing it had.
Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) believed economic factors were more important than political considerations when deciding whether or not to join, but 59 per cent also believed the political and constitutional implications of joining the euro were a significant bar to membership.
Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) also thought the differences between the UK’s economy and those of our European partners would make euro membership hazardous in the foreseeable future. And 61 per cent believed euro membership would mean higher taxes and greater regulation in Britain.
A huge majority (77 per cent) believed the euro’s poor performance on the money markets has threatened its viability as a currency.
Mary Chapman, Director General of the Institute of Management, said: “This latest research shows how the poor performance of the euro, together with a continuing lack of proper public debate on the issue, are combining to create an increasingly hostile attitude to the currency.
“It is time the arguments on this crucial topic were given a fuller airing so that both business and the public as a whole are better briefed. Everyone is entitled to be given a clearer picture of what euro membership would actually mean to them – as companies and as individuals.”