British firms seek their destiny in a changing Europe

The impact of changes to the European political scene on UK industry is starkly illustrated this week. As the British Government plans a more positive role in Europe, the leading Continental partners face increasingly difficult problems. As we hear in our reports from France and Germany, the political climate in both countries is changing fast […]

The impact of changes to the European political scene on UK industry is starkly illustrated this week. As the British Government plans a more positive role in Europe, the leading Continental partners face increasingly difficult problems.

As we hear in our reports from France and Germany, the political climate in both countries is changing fast and making a delay to a single European currency all the more likely.

In Germany a myriad of difficult economic conditions is causing its finance ministry real problems in meeting the conditions set down for economic and monetary union.

In France the unexpected victory of the Left signals a new and more sceptical approach to a single currency, while throwing three privatisation programmes into doubt. The deals involving telecoms, defence and aerospace firms affect the industrial landscape across Europe, not just in France.

This week we report on research which shows many of our exporters understand this very well. They pick out economic and political conditions abroad as one of the key factors which affect export sales.

The research highlights the importance of the European marketplace. In some areas of the UK, the proportion of exporters who say that they traded with other EU countries in the past 12 months is as high as 98%. More than half those companies said they expected to increase their Continental sales this year.

More change in Europe is assured and one of the biggest risks for British industry lies in taking a parochial view of business and political issues.